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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Sir Michael Somare tells Downer to got to hell over Moti issue in his country.

The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Sir Michael Somare has rejected calls to release a damning report into Julian Moti’s escape to the Solomon Islands, telling agitators they can “go to hell”.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Alexander Downer is among those demanding the immediate release of the report, which recommends Sir Michael be charged over Moti’s escape aboard a PNG defence force plane.

“This report, if it is accurate, is a very great concern to us,” Downer said earlier this week. But Sir Michael has hit back, saying Papua New Guinea won’t be dictated to by “outsiders”.

Sir Michael has always denied authorising the PNG defence force flight that last year spirited Moti to freedom in the Solomons at a time when Australia was seeking him on child sex charges.

The Australian lawyer – a close friend of Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare – has since been appointed the country’s attorney-general despite the serous allegations against him.

Sogavare has repeatedly refused to hand over Moti, and his appointment earlier this month has plunged relations with Australia to new lows.

Despite Sir Michael’s denials, a PNG Defence Force inquiry found Sir Michael was responsible for the flight and should be charged.

Sir Michael is pursuing court action to have the report declared null and void, and has refused to publicly release it. But leaked copies have been widely reported on in the media.

Asked yesterday about Aust-ralian news reports on the inquiry’s findings, and Downer’s call for the report’s release, Sir Michael told reporters: “You can tell them to go to hell”.
He insisted the Moti affair was not PNG’s concern.

“The Moti issue is the issue with Sogavare and the Australian government. I have nothing to do with it, that’s all,” he said.
Sir Michael also said it was up to cabinet whether the report was released. “We have a parliamentary process in which we deal with things,” he said.

“We are not going to just listen to outsiders, our critics, to tell us what to do. I have got a country to run and other people should mind their own business.”

Sir Michael appears likely to return as prime minister following national elections. If he does, it is likely the report will remain suppressed.

Meanwhile, four senior PNG Defence Force officers have been reinstated after being suspended over Moti’s escape. They are Chief of Staff Tom Ur, Joint Forces Commander Vagi Oala, Air Operations Director Ron Hosea and Air Transport Squadron Commander Chester Berobero.


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