8 Jun 2007

PNG justice minister critical of failed Moti escape probe

3:26 pm on 8 June 2007

Papua New Guinea's justice minister, Bire Kimisopa, says his country has lost an opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to the rule of law following the assisted escape of wanted Australian lawyer Julian Moti.

Mr Kimisopa says PNG and international laws were broken when Mr Moti evaded extradition to Australia to face child sex charges by escaping Port Moresby on a secret PNG military flight to the Solomons last October.

Mr Kimisopa told the newspaper, The National, that PNG police failed to prosecute the defence force personnel and government officials responsible for arranging Mr Moti's escape.

He says top officials did not come clean on who was involved and although laws were broken, PNG authorities didn't have the courage to act.

The prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, has consistently denied sanctioning the flight and is refusing to release a PNG Defence Force inquiry report that is believed to point to him as the instigator of the escape plan.