7 Aug 2007

Controversial Solomons Attorney General allowed to sit in parliament

7:12 pm on 7 August 2007

Solomon Islands Attorney General Julian Moti sat in the country's parliament today for the first time as the opposition challenged his right to be there.

Mr Moti, who is wanted in Australia to face child sex charges, sat next to Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, who has protected him in the Solomons since October last year.

That month, Mr Moti was whisked out of Papua New Guinea to the Solomons on a clandestine PNG military flight, enabling him to evade extradition to Australia.

When parliament resumed in Honiara today, the opposition raised a point of order, presenting a Public Service Commission document saying Mr Moti's appointment was not legal and the commission did not recognise him as a properly-appointed attorney-general.

But the Speaker, Sir Peter Kenilorea, ruled Mr Moti could remain in the house, saying it was up to the courts to determine such matters.

The commission had suspended Mr Moti's appointment last year because of the child sex charges.

Despite the commission's objections he was sworn in as attorney-general last month.

A no-confidence motion against Mr Sogavare is scheduled to be put this Friday, with the Opposition citing the Moti appointment a key concern.