SOGAVARE APPOINTS MOTI AS SOLOMONS ATTORNEY GENERAL

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (SIBC, Sept. 21) - Solomon Islands has appointed controversial lawyer Julian Moti as its new Attorney General.

A statement from the Government Communications Unit says the appointment was made by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission.

Mr. Moti will replace Primo Afeau, who says he has not been officially notified of his removal and is continuing in his office as normal.

Earlier this week Prime Minister Manaseh Sogavare cited misconduct and insubordination as reasons for removing Mr. Afeau from the job.

Last month, Moti attacked what he labeled as a racist crusade against his nomination for the Attorney General’s job. He said if he was offered the position, it would be a great honor and recognition for the 15 years of legal work that he's carried out to promote indigenous interest in Solomon Islands.

Moti said he was surprised by the vicious attack on him by a small white minority who he said acted as proxies for foreign interests. He said all the accusations made against him over the years emanated ultimately from a few white lawyers and their puppets.

Moti said he had been cleared of any liability in criminal charges in Vanuatu.

It’s not known when Moti will take up his new role or if he is currently in Solomon Islands.

[PIR editor’s note: According to a story last week in The Australian, Moti is an adjunct professor of law at Bond University and says he is a visiting fellow at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. Moti, a Queen's Counsel in the Solomons, once faced a charge of statutory rape involving a 13-year-old girl in Vanuatu. He denied the charge, which was thrown out of court. A civil case brought by the girl was settled under a deed of agreement. He said the court case in Vanuatu "didn't even stack up to a prima facie case on the evidence, despite the perseverance of my white prosecutors".]

Earlier today, Primo Afeau said he is still the Attorney General and has not been officially notified he's been removed from the job or appointed a high court judge.

Afeau says the Prime Minister has no say in the appointments of lawyers to the bench.

He also says there's no logic in shifting someone who's supposedly been removed for misconduct in office to a higher position.

Afeau says he has not agreed to be appointed a high court judge because his own case is still to be resolved by the government.

Asked for his reaction to the appointment of Julian Moti, Afeau said he couldn't comment because it was a decision by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission.

September 22, 2006

Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corp.: www.sibconline.com.sb

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