Solomons minister arrested over Moti's case

A Solomon Islands government minister has been arrested over last week's illegal entry of Australian lawyer Julian Moti, who was appointed as the Pacific island country's attorney-general last month.

Solomons Immigration Minister Peter Shanel has been charged with perverting the course of justice, misleading a police officer and misleading a public servant, Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported Wednesday.

Moti was arrested in Papua New Guinea (PNG) at the end of last month at the request of the Australian government, who is seeking to extradite Moti to face child sex charges.

Moti later jumped bail and had been taking political refuge in the Solomon Islands High Commission in PNG before he was flown to the Solomon Islands on board a PNG military plane last week.

During a High Court hearing in Solomons capital of Honiara on Monday, Moti's lawyers produced an order signed by Shanel that purportedly exempted Moti from having to have valid travel documents to enter the Solomons.

They requested that Solomons Police Commissioner Shane Castles drop the illegal entry charges against Moti, who is in a Honiara jail.

But Solomons Solicitor-General Nathan Moshinsky, who is also acting attorney-general, applied for an injunction to stay the exemption document, alleging it was falsified.

He told the court that on October 10, the day of Moti's arrival in the Solomons, Shanel had informed Castles he would not be signing any such order to allow Moti in from PNG.

But the exemption document presented by Moti's lawyers was signed by Shanel and dated two days before Moti's entry.

Shanel has been granted bail and was ordered to report to police twice a week and to reappear in court in 30 days, according to AAP.

Moti's case is now the focus of the strained relations between the Solomons and Australia which is sparked by the expulsion of Australian high commissioner last month.

Canberra is not happy with the appointment of Moti, a personal friend of Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, and is seen to have an anti-Australian influence on the prime minister.

But Australia has denied its pursuit of Moti is politically motivated.

Source: Xinhua

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