PNG PRIME MINISTER ACCUSES AUSTRALIA OF NONCOMPLIANCE

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post Courier, Oct. 18) – The Papua New Guinea Prime Minister yesterday accused Australia of trying to undermine Papua New Guinea’s sovereignty by trying to have Solomon Islands (suspended) attorney general Julian Moti extradited from Port Moresby.

In a statement aimed at preventing the Opposition Leader Peter O’Neill from raising the issue during Question Time, Sir Michael Somare accused Australia of not following the right channels to seek Mr. Moti’s extradition to face alleged child sex charges.

"If we allow our departments to be dictated to by unauthorized notices from a foreign government we are slowly eroding our sovereignty as an independent nation," the Prime Minister said.

Sir Michael said Papua New Guinea had in place an Extradition Act 2005 which outlined the process.

Therefore, he said any requests coming to Papua New Guinea from any country must go through the proper legal and diplomatic channels such as the Department of Foreign Affairs. He said advice from the Attorney General indicated this process was not fully complied with and the arrest of Julian Moti by Papua New Guinea authorities was not executed in accordance with this Act.

Sir Michael said the Extradition Act was a complex legal matter and he appealed to Members of Parliament not to make ill-informed comments on it. These comments will do little to resolve anything, he said.

Sir Michael said his government did not want to cause any diplomatic row with Australia over its attempts to extradite Mr. Moti. He also reiterated he had no prior knowledge of the way Mr. Moti was taken out of Papua New Guinea.

"Mr. Speaker, I state categorically to this Parliament and the people of Papua New Guinea that the covert operation that took place last week for Mr. Moti to leave Papua New Guinea was done without sanction from this Government," Sir Michael said. "I want to also make it emphatically clear that I did not have any prior knowledge of this operation, nor did I authorize it. Any suggestions to the contrary are mischievous and untrue."

Sir Michael said such an unauthorized action (to fly Moti out of Papua New Guinea) has very serious implications and the Government will deal with those concerned within Papua New Guinea laws.

Mr. O’Neill said the laws of Papua New Guinea were breached in what he described as "the great escape" of Mr. Moti. He said firstly there was the warrant of arrest issued by the Court, which Mr. Moti has not complied. Mr. O’Neill said Papua New Guinea’s civil aviation, defense force, and immigration laws were also breached.

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