29 Jan 2007

PNG team appeals to Solomons for access in Moti probe

3:19 pm on 29 January 2007

Papua New Guinea's Defence Force inquiry team has appealed to the Solomon Islands government to allow its members to go to Honiara to speak to those involved in the Julian Moti saga.

Canberra was angered that PNG's military facilitated Mr Moti's escape to the Solomons, where he hoped to take up the post of Attorney General, when the Australian authorities were seeking to extradite him to face child sex charges.

Over the weekend, the Solomons government blocked the trip, with the foreign minister, Patteson Oti, saying the board of inquiry's jurisdiction did not extend to the Solomons and it was an internal matter for PNG.

Our correspondent in Port Moresby, Alex Rheeney, says the inquiry is running out of time to complete its work:

"The Deputy Chairman of the inquiry, Tony Huai, has actually appealed to the Solomon Islands government to still allow them into Honiara on moral grounds because he reckons the Solomon Islands government owes PNG and its people an explanation as to how Julian Moti used a defence force aircraft to fly into Solomon Islands."

Alex Rheeney says members of the team did not want to sit in Honiara, but just wanted to interview nine people, including Mr Moti.