AUSTRALIA has said sorry for the political witch-hunt they started against former Solomon Islands Attorney-General and Fijian citizen Julian Moti, Queen’s Counsel (QC).
Speaking at the launch of ‘Redeeming Moti’ written by Susan Merrell, Mr Moti talked candidly about what this apology from Australia meant to him.
“I am pleased to announce that the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia has settled my claim for redress and apologised to me for my unlawful rendition,” he said.
“Under the terms of our Deed of Settlement, which we are obliged to keep confidential, I am permitted to reveal only the text of the agreed statement appended as Annexure A which reads as follows:
- On 27 December 2007, Mr Julian Moti QC was deported from the Solomon Islands to Australia to face criminal prosecution.
- Following the decision of the High Court on 7 December 2011 that permanently stayed the prosecution of Mr Moti as an abuse of process, Mr Moti sought damages against the Commonwealth.
- Mr Moti has resolved his claim against the Commonwealth and as part of that resolution the Commonwealth states that it regrets that Australian officials facilitated the unlawful deportation of Mr Moti QC from the Solomon Islands to Australia to face criminal prosecution.
Mr Moti said: “This statement, duly signed for and on behalf of the Australian Government, means a lot to me, only because Australia rarely apologises to anyone for its official misdeeds.”
The terms of their Deed of Settlement forbids Mr Moti from disclosing anything else about its contents, including the quantum of compensation he was paid for quitting his claim. “What I am able to say to highlight its monetary insignificance is that I am still driving the same Mercedes Benz I drove before in Sydney and own the tiniest car in Fiji,” he said.
Mr Moti faced persecution and was falsely labelled a paedophile by Australian authorities as he started to clamp down on the influence the Australian-run Regional Assistance Mission (RAMSI) had on Solomon Islands.Not one to mince his words, Mr Moti declared that ‘fourteen years of RAMSI’s reign over Solomon Islands has cost Australian taxpayers billions of dollars and made little difference to the ground reality of Solomon Islands’.
As a lead member of the Manasseh Sogavare government, Mr Moti had begun questioning RAMSI’s role and had started discussions about replacing Australian financing with Chinese loans.
Before he was illegally deported from the Solomons to Australia after being kidnapped from his home in 2007, Mr Moti had plans to meet with Chinese officials to hold further discussions on the loans.
Mr Moti has also now challenged Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sogavare to tell the people of Solomons why he is yet to be paid his long-outstanding compensation by the Solomon Islands.The book ‘Redeeming Moti’ was written by Ms Merrell after she investigated the injustices Mr Moti faced.
Key ‘prosecution witnesses’ from Vanuatu were paid by Australian taxpayers more than AUD$100,000 (F$155,067.90) when the annual average income in Vanuatu was roughly AUD$2500 (F$ 3874.04).
“I fail to understand why the Australian government felt compelled to make any witness payments at all in this day and age when clear provision existed in applicable legislation for evidence to be given via video conferencing,” he said.
“My witnesses had no trouble using the same technology for testifying before Justice Mullins during the hearing of my permanent stay application in the Supreme Court of Queensland.
“Something must be fundamentally wrong with any justice system when lawyers get themselves involved in the design and implementation of politically-motivated prosecutions for alleged extra-territorial offences against other lawyers and fellow citizens.”