Charges dropped against former Solomons A-G Moti | Pacific Beat

Charges dropped against former Solomons A-G Moti

Charges dropped against former Solomons A-G Moti

Updated 15 February 2012, 13:47 AEDT

The long running saga of child sex charges against former Solomon Islands Attorney-General Julian Moti has ended with charges against him being dropped.

Mr Moti was arrested at Brisbane International Airport in December 2007, and charged with seven counts of engaging in sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 16. The charges relate to the alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl in Vanuatu in 1997.

Since his return to Australia, Mr Moti has fought to have the charges thrown out. His lawyers argued his deportation from the Solomon Islands was unlawful because it was an abuse of procedure. Yesterday, a Brisbane judge ordered all charges against Mr Moti be dropped.

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts

Speaker: Roger de Robillard, Sydney Barrister and former advisor to Solomon Islands government

DE ROBILLARD: Not at all. The evidence that came out in front of Her Honour Justice Mulllins was quite strong and so no, it was not a surprise as you would have seen from the article I wrote in Crikey just on Monday.

COUTTS: Yeah, we'll get to that in a moment. So what is the evidence that you say supported the charges being dropped, that was used by Justice Mullins?

DE ROBILLARD: Well the evidence on which Her Honour relied heavily was simply the fact that there had been what she considered to be improper payment made to various witnesses or potential witnesses in the case. Those payments went in excess of AU$130,000 over a period of two years.

COUTTS: Now, that actually became contentious in the case, didn't it, because testing of evidence of this kind the prosecution was saying had not been done before?

DE ROBILLARD: It had never been done before, is that what your saying?

COUTTS: Well, that's what the prosecution was arguing, yes.

DE ROBILLARD: Well, I mean at the end of the day, even Mr Agius, who is a very skilled advocat had to admit that he had no explanation about this, because he had never seen it before, nor had the DPP the Commonwealth DPP ever seen it before in their experience since the creation of the office.

COUTTS: So how was it proved that the witnesses then hadn't been influenced in any way?

DE ROBILLARD: Well, it was not proved, that is why Her Honour decided that these payments made it very risky to proceed against Mr Moti, because it could amount to an abuse of process of the court system.

COUTTS: And Mr de Robillard, in your article that you have referred to in Crikey, what are you saying there? Was there undue influence from the Howard Government at the time?

DE ROBILLARD: Well, there is no doubt the evidence comes out strongly that in fact, as I've said in the article, the Australian Federal Police actually started looking at Moti only at the urging of the High Commissioner for Australia in the Solomon Islands, Mr Patrick Cole. And in fact, when Moti in 2004 was not made Attorney-General, as had been intended, then the AFP activities fell off and only resumed in 2006, when Moti was actually named as attorney-general. I mean it is a very serious matter where I just really believe that the Rudd Government should have an inquiry into the matter, because it is a gross abuse of the sovereignty of the Solomon Islands people and government.

As I've said in my article, Mr Cole thought of the Solomon Islands as his backyard. When he says Moti has been named as our Attorney-General. He used the word our when he is talking about the Solomon Islands, when in fact, he should only be concerned about the Attorney-General of Australia, not of the Solomon Islands.

COUTTS: You also mention in the article and question whether Mr Moti was deported, extradited or kidnapped from the Solomon Islands. A fairly serious claim, isn't it?

DE ROBILLARD: Well it is not made lightly. The clear evidence is that there was an order of the Solomon Islands court which said you cannot remove Mr Moti from the jurisdiction. The Australian lawyers there, obviously they always act behind the local lawyers, but they are paid by AusAID and RAMSI. They actually ran a case to dispute the judge's ruling and before we got the ruling, they had taken him away. So in otherwords, they went to the court to say this order is wrong. But before and when the judge heard the argument, adjourned his decision and before the decision could be given, they took him away.

COUTTS: And just briefly, because we are out of time. Mr de Robillard, is there a case now for Mr Moti to sue the Australian Government?

DE ROBILLARD: Well, that seems very, very likely and the interesting question now is will Mr Rudd do the right thing and apologise to Mr Moti for the past abuses of the Howard Government.

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