SOLOMONS PRIME MINISTER WARNS MOTI CRITICS

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (SIBC, May 8) – Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has expressed disappointment over damming comments made by various groups on the government's plan to lift the suspension order on [prospective] Attorney General, Julian Moti.

[PIR editor’s note: Julian Moti is an Australian lawyer whose appointment last September as Solomon Islands Attorney General by Sogavare triggered an international crisis among the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and Australia. Australia has insisted that Moti be repatriated from the Solomons to face charges of raping a 13-year-old girl in Vanuatu.]

Mr Sogavare expressed the disappointment during a media conference in Honiara today.

He cited the the National Council of Women, Transparency Solomon Islands and the Parliamentary Opposition as those who have been critical of government's plan.

Mr Sogavare said whilst Solomon Islands believes in the freedom of expression, people must be responsible in expressing their views.

"The expressions that have come out now amount to criminal defamation and that's quite serious. I hope that people making these comments are aware of the extend that they are taking this issue."

Prime Minister Sogavare says a lot that was said on the Moti issue were spoken out of context, because they don't [know] what is happening.

He said there is a danger in joining a public debate on issues that one does not know, adding that people must get their facts right on such sensitive issues.

Mr Sogavare assured Solomon Islanders that his government is dealing with the Moti issue within the law of the country.

Meanwhile, The Solomon Islands Public Service Commission says it has no plans to lift its suspension order on Australian lawyer Julian Moti to allow him to become the attorney general.

Radio New Zealand quotes the chairman of the commission, Edmond Andresen, as saying that a suggestion by Prime Minister Sogavare that the suspension was about to be lifted, came as a surprise to the Commission.

He says the grounds for the suspension are still there.

Mr Andresen says Mr Moti has applied to the courts to have his suspension overturned and the Commission would wait until the courts dealt with the case.

He says what the Commission wants is for Mr Moti to clear himself from the charges or the court to decide in his favour and then direct the Commission, at which point it will comply.

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