The Moti Affair
Mr. Julian Moti, an Australian citizen, had been wanted in Australia for serious alleged overseas child sex offences. He was at the centre of an international dispute following efforts by the Australian Government to extradite him from both Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands to face charges in relation to an incident alleged to have taken place in Vanuatu in 1997.
After his arrest in Papua New Guinea in September 2006, Moti was released on bail pending an extradition hearing, but went into hiding in the Solomon Islands High Commission in Port Moresby. (He later claimed that his life had been threatened, and so sought sanctuary.)
The Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands Governments denied knowledge of his whereabouts, but on 10 October he was secretly flown aboard a Papua New Guinea Defence Force aircraft to Solomon Islands where he was arrested by officers of RAMSI on his arrival in Munda, Western Province. When he left PNG, Moti was in breach of the bail conditions imposed by Madam Justice Catherine Davani of the PNG National Court, and had failed to appear at a PNG court hearing on 30 September. The PNG Government declined to say who in the PNG Defence Force or Government had given the order to fly Moti out. In response, the Australian Government immediately cancelled planned visits by the PNG Prime Minister, Grand Chief the Right Honourable Sir Michael Somare, and Defence Minister Martin Aini, and postponed the annual Australia-PNG Ministerial Forum, and called for an investigation into the flight and prosecution of whoever was responsible.
A PNG Defence Force Board of Inquiry into the escape recommended that Sir Michael Somare and a number of his advisers be charged with offences in relation to the escape, including breaching PNG’s constitution. Sir Michael Somare sought to suppress the Inquiry’s report, challenging the Inquiry’s standing in PNG’s National Court. As yet the Court has not ruled on the validity of Sir MichaelSomare’s challenge to the public release of the Commission of Inquiry’s findings.with the presiding judge likening Sir MichaelSomare’s attempts to suppress the findings of the report as a scandal on par with Watergate.
Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare of Papua New Guinea reportedly “threatened local media with contempt of court over their calls for the official release of the PNG Defence Force Inquiry report that recommends he faces charges” and Somare reportedly does not now support Mr Moti. It does not yet reliably appear that any untoward payment has been made to Sir MichaelSomare for his alleged part in Moti’s passage through Papua New Guinea.[It should be noted that Julian Moti was later extradited and after a trial it was concluded that he was not guilty. ]
This is an adaptation of the relevant excerpts from: