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NRI lawyer jailed in Solomon Islands

Julian Moti is charged with entering the Solomon Islands without a valid visa and travel documents.

india Updated: Oct 11, 2006 14:07 IST

An Indian origin lawyer wanted byAustralian authorities over an alleged sex offence in 1997, was remanded in custody by a court in Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands.

Julian Moti, 41, an Australian citizen, has been charged with entering the Solomon Islands without a valid visa and travel documents, according to reports.

He was arrested Tuesday after arriving on a clandestine Papua New Guinea military flight, along with two associates. Moti's two associates, Robson Tama and lawyer Chris Happa, have been charged with aiding and abetting in the commission of an offence and conspiracy to conduct a misdemeanour.

The first charge - of unlawfully entering the Solomon Islands - carries a penalty of 190 Australian dollars in fine, or three years in prison, or both.

The second charge - for travelling without proper travel documents - carries the same financial penalty, or one year in prison, or both, according to the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

His Australian passport has also been cancelled.

An Indo-Fijian who later acquired Australian citizenship, Moti was recently appointed and then suspended as attorney-general of the Solomon Islands.

He was arrested on Sep 29 by the Papua New Guinea police from the airport in the country's capital Port Moresby. He was on transit to the Solomon Islands, when the request to arrest him came from Australian authorities.

He was subsequently granted bail but did not appear in court. He was found missing from the hotel in Port Moresby where he was put up and then stayed under diplomatic protection at the Solomon Islands high commission in Papua New Guinea.

This had soured relations between Australia and the Solomon Islands.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare of Solomon Islands, who also happens to be a personal friend of Moti, is upset by Australia's pursuit of Moti, accusing Canberra of having political motives. Australia denies the charge.

First Published: Oct 11, 2006 14:07 IST