28 Dec 2007

Sacked Solomons attorney-general to face court in Brisbane today

11:21 am on 28 December 2007

Sacked Solomon Islands attorney-general Julian Moti will appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court today charged with raping a 13-year-old girl in Vanuatu in 1997.

Moti, an Australian citizen, was arrested at Brisbane airport last night following his deportation from Honiara.

He was taken into custody at the Brisbane Watch House where he was charged with engaging in sexual intercourse with a person who is under 16,

The maximum penalty for this offence is 17 years imprisonment.

The Australian lawyer was deported from Honiara yesterday after being sacked as the Solomons attorney-general on the weekend by new prime minister Dr Derek Sikua.

The Fiji-born lawyer denies the charges, saying they were dismissed in a Vanuatu court and revived by Australian authorities to prevent him becoming attorney-general.

Moti has been protected in the Solomons by his friend Manasseh Sogavare, who was prime minister until earlier this month when he was ousted in a parliamentary no-confidence vote.

Moti escaped extradition from Papua New Guinea to Australia in October last year when he skipped bail after being arrested while in transit to the Solomons.

He hid in the Solomons High Commission in Port Moresby before being flown out on a PNG military flight to the Solomons.

Earlier this week, the PNG government banned Moti from returning to PNG, indicating Somare wanted no more trouble over the fugitive lawyer.