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Monday, August 06, 2007

Stop hooting about Julian Moti: warns Sogavare

By Deli Oso, Press Secretary to the PM

Solomons' Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has rejected the media statement by the Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands , Peter Hooton on the Julian Moti case broadcasted by the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Cooperation (SIBC) on Saturday night.

“Contrary to what the Australian High Commissioner has broadcasted on Staurday night, Attorney General Julian Moti QC is not going to face a trial in a court in Australia under Australian law. Presently no charges have been laid against our AG in Australia. All that has happened is that a Brisbane magistrate has issued a warrant for the arrest of our AG in Australia. Based on that warrant, the Australian Government has requested the Solomon Islands Government to extradite him.

“Australian High Commissioner Peter Hooton shows his ignorance of Australian law when he says that Moti will be facing a trial in an Australian court. That is utter nonsense and makes me very suspicious. What Moti faces after he gets charged is a committal proceeding, the purpose of which is to determine whether sufficient evidence exists for him to be committed for trial.

“The position is no different than in 1999 when a Senior Magistrate in Vanuatu dismissed the case against Moti because there was no credible evidence to justify his trial. The evidence that Australia is relying on is exactly the same evidence which was presented to a Vanuatu court back in 1999. The only difference between the evidence in 1999 and today is that the Australian authorities have manipulated the witnesses’ statements, thereby committing a fraud and grossly violating our AG’s constitutional and legal rights.

“I challenge His Excellency Peter Hooton to read the documents, especially the sworn affidavits of the Vanuatu Senior Magistrate and the Vanuatu Public Prosecutor which have been filed in the High Court of Solomon Islands. Let him then tell the people of Melanesia and Australia , why Australian justice will differ from Vanuatu justice in its conclusion on the same matter.

“We have reliable information that the Australian DPP Damian Bugg QC has never personally examined the Moti file. Before the High Commissioner uses Mr Bugg’s name again, he might want to confirm that fact and save us from media propaganda ahead of this week’s parliamentary debates.

“This is not unlike his last desperate attempt, when in breach of diplomatic protocol, and just before our AG was about to be sworn in, the High Commissioner attempted to dissuade the Governor General from proceeding with the ceremony,” Mr Sogavare said.

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