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Solomons fugitive deported to Australia to face child sex charges

Solomons fugitive deported to Australia to face child sex charges

The former attorney general of the Solomon Islands appeared in Australian court Friday, a day after he was extradited from the South Pacific nation to face charges of raping a child.
Julian Moti, 42 _ an Australian national who was fired earlier this week from his post _ appeared briefly in the Brisbane Magistrates Court to face charges of raping a 13-year-old girl.
Moti was ordered to remain in custody until Jan. 4. His case was adjourned to give him time to find a private lawyer.
If convicted he faces a maximum penalty of 17 years imprisonment, an Australian Federal Police statement said.
Moti was arrested at the airport in the eastern city of Brisbane on Thursday when he arrived from Honiara.
The extradition came a week after former Education Minister Derek Sikua was elected prime minister of the Solomons. Sikua immediately moved to repair ties with regional powers that became strained under his ousted predecessor.
Moti is accused of raping a 13-year-old girl in Vanuatu in 1997 _ a crime he was acquitted of by a jury in the Solomon Islands.
Under Australia's anti-pedophile laws, its citizens can be tried for crimes committed overseas. Australian law does not recognize the Vanuatu court's decision on the Moti sex charges, and the government had demanded that he be sent to Australia to face justice.
Moti was fired as attorney general after the Solomons' High Court last week ruled that he held no special legal status as attorney general and was therefore not immune from extradition.
Moti was appointed to the post in 2006 by his close friend, recently ousted premier Manasseh Sogavare.
The new Solomons government of Sikua pledged to send Moti back to Australia as part of its policy of improving relations with Canberra after a series of bitter rows between the two nations during Sogavare's 20-month rule.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd welcomed the move.
"I appreciate the fact that the new government of the Solomons has moved early to return Mr. Moti to Australia _ now these matters lie with the appropriate legal authorities within Australia," Rudd told reporters in Melbourne on Friday. He declined to comment further.


Updated : 2021-07-28 05:51 GMT+08:00