3 Jul 2007

PNG PM Somare behind Moti escape to Solomons, says former PM

3:29 pm on 3 July 2007

A former Papua New Guinea prime minister claims the current prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, gave the orders to fly wanted Australian lawyer Julian Moti to Solomon Islands to avoid extradition to Australia to face child sex charges.

The former prime minister, Sir Mekere Morauta, has issued a statement, saying he has a copy of the PNG Defence Force inquiry's report which showed Sir Michael ordered Mr Moti's flight out of PNG.

Sir Mekere says it concluded that Sir Michael had ordered his officials to organise a clandestine PNG military flight for Mr Moti in October last year.

Sir Michael has taken the board of inquiry to court to have the report declared null on the basis it was not conducted properly.

His press secretary, Betha Somare, who is Sir Michael's daughter, says they are questioning the impartiality of the board.

She says Sir Michael did not order the defence force to undertake the flight.

Mr Moti, who is the suspended attorney-general of Solomon Islands, is in Honiara, with the government there also refusing to extradite him Australia over sex charges dating back to the 1990's.