3 Oct 2006

Solomons leader says Canberra's attempt to arrest Julian Moti a slap in the face for his country

8:13 pm on 3 October 2006

The Australian prime minister John Howard says he wants justice to take its course in relation to the fugitive Solomon Islands Attorney-General Julian Moti.

The Solomon Islands government has confirmed that Mr Moti is being given refuge in the country's high commission in Papua New Guinea to avoid extradition proceedings to return him to Australia.

Mr Moti, an Australian citizen facing child sex allegations, jumped bail after being arrested on Friday in PNG at Australia's request.

The charges concern events in Vanuatu nine years ago but Vanuatu police say they are not pursuing Mr Moti.

Australia has yet to indicate why it has chosen to act now, but the Solomon Islands prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, says Canberra's move is a slap on the face for his country and undermines its sovereignty.

He calls it part of an ongoing Australia strategy to exert its authority over a little country.

Mr Sogavare also says the Australian action also calls into question its continued preaching of governance, transparency and accountability which, he says, is the basis for the presence of the Regional Assistance Mission in the Solomons.