PNG PROBE FINDS MOTI NOT CLEARED OF VANUATU CHARGES

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By Julia Dai A Bore

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Feb. 13) - Legal documents obtained by the Papua New Guinea Defense Force Board of Inquiry suggest that fugitive Mr. Julian Moti was "not cleared" by the Vanuatu Courts on child sex charges.

Chairman Justice Gibbs Salika said yesterday that evidence before the inquiry suggested Moti was not cleared by the courts.

After he was arrested on September 29, last year in Port Moresby after arriving from Singapore, politicians including Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and his deputy Mr. Don Polye called for Moti to be released and allowed a clear passage to the Solomon Islands.

Moti was arrested by Port Moresby police based on advice from Interpol, who had received a request from the Australian federal police.

After Moti was arrested and taken to the Boroko police station, Deputy Prime Minister Polye issued an explicit order to then acting Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga to release Moti "within the next hour".

Polye told Mr. Kulunga that he felt that there were no legal grounds to detain and extradite Moti to Australia. Moti was released that night and taken to a hotel, and later moved to the Solomon Islands high commission, before being secretly flown to Munda on October 10.

After going through legal documents made available to him, Justice Salika said the evidence spoke otherwise.

"The evidence is contrary. He has not been cleared by the Vanuatu courts," Salika said yesterday.

Salika made the comments when Joe Ealadona, the managing director of the National Broadcasting Corporation produced the transcript of an interview with Sir Michael on October 4, in which the Prime Minister called for Moti to be given safe passage back to Solomon Islands because he had been cleared by the court for what he had been accused of.

Salika asked if the news item as reported by the NBC was an accurate perception of what the PM said to which Mr. Ealadona replied: "The news was derived from the recorded interview."

One of the documents before the defense inquiry that suggest that Moti had not been freed by the Vanuatu courts is the statement in support of request for provisional arrest of Moti.

The document before the inquiry, dated September 28, 2006, gives details of Moti and also states the alleged offences, which could land Moti up to 17 years jail in Australia if he is found guilty.

The warrant of arrest was issued on August 11, 2006, from Australia within Section 50AD of the Crimes Act 1914 (Commonwealth) by GB Pitt, acting magistrate.

The Australian request was based on fresh evidence, which suggest that the Vanuatu magistrate hearing the case was allegedly sponsored by Moti to study at an Australian University in Sydney following the dismissal of the Moti sex charges.

The magistrate had based the dismissal on the basis that the complainant was not under the age of 13 years as required by section 97(1). The case was dismissed on August 23, 1999.

The document before the defense inquiry gives full details of the allegations of the child sex offences committed by Moti in Vanuatu between May 1997 and October 25 1997.

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