Suspended Attorney-General Julian Moti has arrived back in the Solomon Islands today where, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, he is being detained by police.

Moti was arrested in Vanuatu in 1997 and charged with several counts rape of a 13-year-old girl. In 1998 the Magistrate dismissed the charges and there was no appeal. In June 2006, Australian Federal Police took another statement from the now 21-year-old girl in Vanuatu.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that “on August 7 [2006], the Director of Public Prosecutions, Damien Bugg, advised the Australian Federal Police there was a prima facie case against Moti under the Child Sex Tourism Act.” This is the same DPP who was unable to identify a prima facie case against Steve Vizard.

Then, in a recent extraordinary outburst, Downer said “I don’t care what they say about Australia or what they say about the Australian Government, we are dead right about this. We are dead right.”

Most bizarre of all, the Labor foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said today he “backs all the Government’s efforts to bring to justice former Solomon Islands attorney general Julian Moti”.

The legal difficulties facing Australia are immense. Australia must satisfy a Solomons court that there is sufficient evidence to extradite Moti, a joint Australian-Solomons citizen. The evidence is fatally flawed because he has already been discharged by a Vanuatu court (the jurisdiction where the offence is said to have occurred), the victim’s evidence is flaky and the matter is old and unduly delayed.

This is an attempt by one country (Australia) to extradite a man from a second country (the Solomons) for offences committed in a third country (Vanuatu) which had already tried and discharged him.

If he was extradited, Moti would remain in custody here without bail. The victim and any other witnesses would be brought to Australia for the committal proceedings and trial. All this would take years.

One of the required tests for the Bugg DPP is: is there a reasonable prospect of conviction? In this case, even Blind Freddy QC would say No!

Yet the Government and the Opposition have acted on Bugg’s advice. It had better be correct or this matter will end in tears.

Peter Fray

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