5 Oct 2006

PNG rebuffs Australian bid to extradite Solomons AG

2:50 pm on 5 October 2006

Papua New Guinea's prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, says Solomon Islands' fugitive attorney-general should be allowed to fly to Honiara and not face extradition to Australia from PNG.

Julian Moti is believed to be in the Solomons High Commission in Port Moresby with a warrant out for his arrest on the request of the Australian government, which wants him extradited to face child sex offence charges.

Sir Michael says the Moti case was a matter for Australia and the Solomons and PNG did not have laws to detain people in such situations.

He says PNG has no law to hold people to ransom and Mr Moti is to have a free passage to go to Solomon Islands.

This contradicts PNG's Public Prosecutor Chronox Manek's assertions that his country's new Extradition Act allows Pacific Islands Forum nations, including Australia, to request the arrest and extradition of fugitives if they are in PNG.

Australia's justice minister, Chris Ellison, says he rejects any assertion that the investigation has been influenced by political considerations.

He says the probe began in early 2005, which was when police first received a referral in this matter.

An Australian warrant for Mr Moti's arrest was issued on August the 11th on evidence obtained as a result of cooperation between Australian law enforcement agencies and their international counterparts.