17 May 2007

PNG minister says Moti affair still clouds ties with Canberra

5:52 pm on 17 May 2007

Papua New Guinea's foreign minister, Paul Tiensten, says its stalled diplomatic relationship with Australia should move forward when a board of inquiry's report on the Julian Moti affair is made public.

Mr Moti evaded extradition from PNG last October by skipping bail, hiding out in the Solomon Islands High Commission in Port Moresby and then taking a clandestine PNG military flight to the Solomons.

Australian authorities want Mr Moti, who is an Australian lawyer, to face sex charges relating to his time in Vanuatu in 1997.

A PNG report into his escape has been kept under wraps by the prime minister, Sir Michael Somare.

Mr Tiensten says the report should be made public and the perpetrators need to be punished.

Sir Michael, who denies sanctioning Mr Moti's escape, has accused the defence inquiry team of bias after its members said evidence showed he ordered the flight.