Cop coerced in Moti trial

National, Normal

By SUSAN MERRELL from Brisbane

A POLICE officer had told a Julian Moti hearing that he was advised against giving evidence that would corroborate the former Solomon Islands attorney-general’s claim that he was illegally deported.
Selwyen Akao, who is a member of the Solomon Islands police, said he was assured that if he contradicted the claim, nothing would happen to him.
If he did the opposite, he would be dismissed, he said.
He said this was conveyed to him by deputy commissioner Walter Kola and Supt Nela Mosese during a clandestine meeting at Aloha nightclub in Honiara.
He said a colleague, Sam Kalita, had in his testimony, strengthened Mr Moti’s allegation of illegal deportation.
The court was earlier told that both Mr Kalita and Mr Akao assisted in Moti’s deportation from the Solomon Islands on Dec 27, 2007.
Mr Akao was testifying in the Brisbane supreme court which is considering an application for a permanent stay of proceedings between the Australian government and Moti.
Moti is charged with raping a 13-year-old girl in Vanuatu in 1997.
The original charges were dismissed before reaching trial in the Vanuatu courts in 1999.
After Moti was deported to Australia, the Australian authorities charged him with the alleged offence under the country’s “sex-tourism” Act.
Under Solomon Islands law, Moti had seven days to appeal the deportation.
His lawyers are trying to prove that with the encouragement of the Australian government, the Solomon Islands authorities ignored this.
They maintain that both governments were anxious to remove Moti from political influence in the Solomon Islands.
They alleged that the deportation was, in reality, a disguised extradition.
During questioning, senior liaison officer Peter Bond of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) denied that he had any hand in the deportation.
About the details, Mr Bond was less confident.
He seemed to have little effective memory of events leading to the deportation.
When cross-examined on his diary entries and other official AFP documents that seemed to
contradict his original assertion, he was often unable to recall to what they referred.
In one 30-minute period, he answered questions with “I don’t recall” or similar 15 times.
The hearing, which started on Sept 16, has twice been adjourned to allow the defence to consider late material provided by the prosecution.
Justice Debra Mullins had earlier granted a two-week adjournment, causing  Moti’s subsequent trial – should the application be unsuccessful – to be delisted.
The stay application claims there has been an “abuse of process” both in the motivation for Moti’s prosecution and in the handling of prosecution witnesses.
It also claims a similar abuse of process in the events leading to his deportation from the Solomon Islands and subsequent arrest in Brisbane.
It is expected the hearing would take final submissions today.
If the application is unsuccessful, a new date for trial is unlikely to be found before the middle of next year.