18 Oct 2006

Solomons PM accuses Australia of underming small states

2:53 pm on 18 October 2006

The Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, has accused Australia of undermining the integrity and the law of smaller sovereign states.

He says Australia is doing this in pursuit of the extradition of Julian Moti to face charges already dealt with and quashed by the Vanuatu courts.

Mr Sogavare says this is why his government maintains support for Mr Moti's appointment as the Attorney General.

And, the Immigration Minister, Peter Shanel, says the exemption order he'd signed giving permission to Mr Moti to enter the country without a passport, which had been cancelled by Australia, was genuine.

Mr Shanel says the order was prepared for travel to Honiara from Port Moresby on a scheduled Air Niugini flight before Mr Moti fled the country in a PNG defence force plane.

In related developments, the government is bringing in another Australian lawyer, Christian Roger de Robillard, to advise it on how to get the suspended Attorney-General out of jail.

Mr De Robillard said he had a similar experience in Vanuatu in 1996, when he was about to become that country's attorney-general and instead found himself serving six weeks in jail on contempt of court charges before the decision was overturned on appeal.

He says he wants to know why it's taken Australia years to do anything from 1997 when Mr Moti was charged with child sex offences and now.