Moti wins court battle on child sex charges

National, Normal

AN Australian judge has thrown out child sex proceedings against former Solomon Islands attorney-general Julian Moti after finding “an abuse of process” in the prosecution case.
Queensland supreme court judge Justice Debbie Mullins yesterday brought to a close Mr Moti’s lengthy battle to clear his name over allegations he raped a 13-year-old girl in Noumea and Vanuatu in 1997.
In a written judgment handed down on Tuesday, Justice Mullins rejected the majority of the grounds argued by Mr Moti’s lawyers, but found the Australian federal police’s (AFP) decision to make witness payments to the complainant’s family was an “abuse of process”.
During the stay application, the Brisbane court was told the AFP gave almost A$150,000 (K390,000) in what it called “subsistence payments” to the girl and her family between last year and this year.
An AFP officer gave evidence to the court that the money was to maintain the witnesses so they could be available to attend court for Mr Moti’s trial.
However, Justice Mullins found the extent of the living expenses provided by the AFP was excessive, and that investigations made by the AFP into the cost of living in Vanuatu were “superficial”.
Mr Moti’s lawyers argued that the AFP had made the payments to placate the complainant and her family, and to keep them “satisfied and willing” to give evidence against their client.
They argued that if the supreme court sanctioned this conduct it would establish a precedent for witnesses to demand money from police under threat of withdrawal from a prosecution.
Justice Mullins agreed that the “seriousness of the abuse of process” warranted the proceedings being stayed.
“The payments bring the administration of justice into disrepute to such an extent that (Mr Moti) must succeed on his claim of abuse of process on that basis,” Justice Mullins said.
Mr Moti was not in court on Tuesday when the judgment was handed down.