22 Feb 2007

PNG prime minister declines to appear at inquiry into Moti flight

7:39 pm on 22 February 2007

Papua New Guinea's prime minister has declined to appear before an inquiry into the clandestine escape of Australian lawyer Julian Moti to the Solomon Islands.

Sir Michael Somare has instead instructed his lawyers to file an affidavit to the PNG Defence Board of Inquiry to explain his role in the Moti affair.

Sir Michael has repeatedly denied sanctioning the PNG military flight allowing his escape to the Solomons on October 10 last year, when Australia wanted him extradited to face child sex charges.

The Post Courier reported that the prime minister would not appear before the inquiry due to the parliamentary sitting that began this week.

The inquiry accepted a submission by Sir Michael's lawyer, Kerenga Kua, that an affidavit be accepted.

The prime minister has rejected claims by a former National Security Advisory Council director-general Joseph Assaigo, who said he ordered the defence flight on directions from Sir Michael.