JULIAN Moti – the man who once was the thorn-in-the-side in Solomon Islands – Australia relations – has died of a heart attack in Fiji.
Moti, which in Hindi and Urdu means pearl, served as Attorney General in controversial circumstances.
In 2006 he was secretly flown to Munda, Western Province aboard a PNG military aircraft reportedly at Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s request.
Upon his arrival in Munda Moti was arrested by officers of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). He was later released albeit briefly to take up Solomon Islands Attorney General position, the job for which Sogavare hand-picked him.
His appointment in 2006 as Attorney General was bitterly opposed by then Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who said then that Moti faced criminal charges relating to alleged sexual offences in Vanuatu.
The stand-off between Honiara and Canberra was exacerbated by police actions in raiding the Prime Minister’s Office, looking for evidence against Moti.
Former North East Guadalcanal MP, Derek Sikua replaced Mr. Sogavare in a successful no-confidence motion. Dr. Sikua’s elevation to the Prime Minister’s position opened the way for Moti’s deportation to Australia. He was subsequently cleared of all charges against him.
The Attorney General’s position was first offered to the late Moti by the late Prime Minister Solomon Mamaloni in 1994. He declined. Allan Kemakeza also reportedly offered the position to him in 2004.
Prime Minister Sogavare and the late Moti, who later became a Queen’s Counsel (QC), kept a close professional relationship until the lawyer’s death on Monday this week.
Solomon Star sought comments from the Office of Prime Minister Sogavare two days ago. None was provided.
By FOLLET JOHN