18 Dec 2006

PNG's Prime Minister could be asked to testify in Moti flight inquiry

8:05 pm on 18 December 2006

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister could be called to testify at a defence force inquiry into how Australian lawyer Julian Moti fled the country with the military's help.

Mr Moti, who is wanted in Australia on child sex charges, was arrested in PNG at Canberra's request but skipped bail and fled to the Solomon Islands aboard a PNG military plane.

The PNG Defence Board of Inquiry has until mid February to report to the Defence Minister on who was behind the clandestine flight.

The Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, has denied sanctioning the flight, which breached PNG civil aviation regulations and landed unauthorised in the Solomons.

The inquiry's deputy chairman, retired Brigadier-General Tony Huai, says that officers found to have committed offences against the state would face disciplinary action.

Senior Defence Force officers, including Commander Peter Ilau, who has been suspended by the government over the affair, are expected to appear before the inquiry later this week.