Sunday, 5 August 2007 7:57 AM

Hooton Clarifies Canberra's Position on Moti

The Australian High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands, Peter Hooton, made a formal statement clarifying certain reports carried by a daily newspaper in Honiara.

Hooton said that while Sogavare may continue to insist for fresh evidence before letting go of Moti, it is really not up to the Australian Government to present to the Solomon Islands Government with fresh evidence against Mr Moti to warrant his arrest and extradition from Solomon Islands.

Mr Hooton says the independent Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions in Australia decided that charges should be laid and Australia expects Mr Moti, an Australian citizen, to face those charges in court. He says the court is the correct forum for hearing the charges and evidence against Mr Moti, and to make decisions about Mr Moti.

Mr Hooton went on to say that the Australian Government has made a full extradition request to the Solomon Islands Government. Mr Hooton says they expected the Solomon Islands Government to process their request in accordance with Solomon Islands law.

Hooton also said that an article carried by a daily newspaper incorrectly stated that Moti's case was "dismissed years ago by Vanuatu courts". He says the previous criminal proceedings against Mr Moti in Vanuatu were dismissed before proceeding to trial.

The High Commissioner says the fact of the matter is Mr Moti has not faced a trial in relation to the charges nor has he been acquitted of the offences.

Hooton said that a dismissed proceeding in Vanuatu does not prevent Mr Moti from being prosecuted in Australia for offences against Australian law.

Mr Moti is wanted by Australian authorities to face a court in Australia to answer charges in relation to offences allegedly committed that broke Australian laws.