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Australia says sorry, Maelanga accepts apology

10 September 2014

AUSTRALIA on Wednesday, apologised to Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Maelanga over an explosive body search its immigration carried out on him last week at Brisbane International Airport.

And Mr Maelanga said he had accepted the apology, which High Commissioner Andrew Byrne delivered during a meeting between the two on Wednesday.

“At least the high commissioner came to me and apologise over what their immigration officials did to me at Brisbane Airport,” Mr Maelanga told the Solomon Star.

He said he had also accepted the explanation Mr Byrne offered as to why the explosive body search was carried out.

Mr Maelanga said he wouldn’t mind being searched if he was traveling alone.

“But I’m leading a government delegation to a United Nations summit and the officials accompanying me all witnessed how I was treated by the Australian immigration.

“This is why I decided to bring the matter out to the media so that the public knows what had happen,” he said.

Mr Byrne in a statement said upon hearing about this incident late on Tuesday, he immediately tried to contact the deputy prime minister.

“I also immediately contacted officials in Australia to establish what had happened,” he said.

He said he and Mr Maelanga had a “constructive discussion”.

“I explained that it appears the relevant officials in Australia had not been informed about the deputy prime minister’s transit.

“Unfortunately, this meant that airport facilitation arrangements for the Deputy Prime Minister had not been put in place.

“Nonetheless I expressed my regret to the Deputy Prime Minister and thanked him for his dignified response.

“We agreed that both sides need to do everything they can to ensure that dignitaries are treated with respect”.

The body search was carried out while Mr Maelanga and his delegation were on their way and back from the Small Islands Development States (SIDS) that concluded in Samoa last week.





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