5 Oct 2006

Solomons to give passport to wanted Moti

5:18 pm on 5 October 2006

The Solomon Islands government is moving urgently to provide Julian Moti with a new passport so he can return home to resume his job as Attorney General.

The Australian government cancelled Mr Moti's passport and wants to extradite him to face child sex offence charges dating back to 1997.

The Solomon Islands maintains Mr Moti - who is in hiding in the Solomons High Commission in Port Moresby - was acquitted on all charges.

Mr Moti's lawyer is appealing a warrant for his arrest which had been issued by the Waigani Magistrates Court on the advice of the Australian government.

The Prime Minister's press secretary, Dili Oso, says as far as the Solomons is concerned, Mr Moti is a free man.

She says he is expected back in the country to start work next week.

"The Solomon Islands government is working on how to bring him over to Honiara and it might mean the issuance of a Solomon Islands passport to Moti."

Dili Oso says the Solomons government believes Australia should respect its views on Mr Moti's acquittal.

Australia's justice minister, Chris Ellison, says he rejects any assertion that the investigation into allegations against Mr Moti has been influenced by political considerations.

He says the probe began in early 2005, which was when police first received a referral in this matter.

An Australian warrant for Mr Moti's arrest was issued on August the 11th on evidence obtained as a result of cooperation between Australian law enforcement agencies and their international counterparts.