NATION

Illegally Deported From The Solomon Islands

Investigative journalist and commentator Susan Merrell tells the inside story of Australian official and Federal Police persecution of the Fijian-born international constitutional law expert. Redeeming Moti is being launched at
11 May 2017 11:00
Illegally Deported From The Solomon Islands
Julian Moti (middle), with Fiji Law Society president Laurel Vaurasi and iTaukei Land Trust Board Secretary, Sevuloni Takele. Photo: Julian Moti

Investigative journalist and commentator Susan Merrell tells the inside story of Australian official and Federal Police persecution of the Fijian-born international constitutional law expert.

Redeeming Moti is being launched at Albert Park Pavilion tonight by the University of Fiji School of Law and its Dean Dr Shaista Shameem.

Members of public wanting to attend the event can RSVP with Nikhat on nikhat@unifiji.ac.fj Signed copies of Redeeming Moti will be on sale for $50 at the event.

Here’s an excerpt from ‘Redeeming Moti’, published with permission:

 

On December 21, 2007, a day after the more Australian-friendly Dr Derek Sikua was appointed Prime Minister, [following the parliamentary Vote of No Confidence that defeated Prime Minister Sogavare] Julian found out that the Australian government had already requested his provisional arrest pending extradition.

A letter informing Julian of the termination of his employment as Attorney General was also delivered to him on 24 December but without any payment of contractual entitlements.

Sikua wanted Julian gone quickly and although he gave an assurance to parliament that the legal process would be honoured, it proved to be lip service.

Sikua made the decision to by-pass extradition red tape, which would take too long, in favour of the easier and shorter process of deportation.

But, by law, a deportation has to have no other purpose than the removal itself. Sikua’s words betrayed him when he spoke of deporting Julian so he could go back to Australia and “face the charges.”

And while the legal processes had not been met to extradite Julian, it seemed that no one had any intention of adhering to the less onerous ones surrounding a deportation either.

Anticipating this move, Julian had obtained a court order restraining the Director of Immigration and the Commissioner of Police (or any of their agents) entering or even approaching Julian’s home to serve documents on him or to remove him. It expressly prevented the Director of Immigration and the Commissioner of Police (or their agents) interfering with Julian’s liberty.

Yet, it was at Julian’s house on the picturesque Tavio Ridge, high above Honiara, on the morning of 27 December that it became evident that something was going down.

The RAMSI helicopter that was usually deployed when there was a threat of civil unrest or when parliament was sitting was circling near Julian’s house, then going out to sea and returning. What’s more, toward early afternoon, a contingent of police had arrived at Julian’s front gates and was being kept back by security guards.

They were there to serve Julian with a deportation order and although furnished with the restraining order by the security guards, they were going nowhere without their prey.

Julian called his lawyer, Wilson Rano, who was with Robson Djokovic, Sogavare’s nephew and political advisor and they set off immediately bound for Julian’s residence.

Travelling towards Tavio Ridge they passed a diplomatic car, inside they recognised SLO (Senior Liaison Officer, Australian Federal Police) Peter Bond and standing some distance away (RAMSI- appointed New Zealander) Deputy Police Commissioner Peter Marshall.

“What’s happening here, Commissioner?” said Djokovic as Wilson Rano pulled up the car beside the policeman.

Marshall responded that he was directing proceedings and making sure everything was done properly. Bond did not speak. The two men continued to the Moti residence where two cars were pulled up outside the residence of the Taiwanese Ambassador next door.

There were three or more plainclothes policemen and two immigration officers.

One immigration officer had the deportation order for Julian and although advised of the restraining order and of the fact that Julian had seven days to challenge their order, nevertheless she had her own orders, which were to serve the order and deport Julian immediately.

Rano had no sooner entered the house than a swarm of police broke through into the interior.  Explaining the legalities of the situation had absolutely no affect

Deputy Police Commissioner Marshall stated on being challenged that he “..had no time for legal technicalities” and later court testimony revealed that SLO Bond had written in his diary “Ignore all court orders that Moti has.”

And so, Julian was arrested and taken to a waiting vehicle. He had agreed to co-operate because he believed he was going to nearby Rove Prison for questioning. Once in the vehicle with lights and sirens in operation, they headed straight for the airport where a commercial flight had been held up on their behalf.

Waiting at the airport were the two Peter’s, Bond and Marshall joined by a third, Ambassador Peter Hooton, who according to his passport was in Australia and also Matthew Wale from Prime Minister Sikua’s office. Each one of these senior officials were aware that Julian, according to law, had seven days to appeal the order without even considering the restraining order – yet none of them had any intention of obeying it.

Rano spoke to Marshall, yet again, explaining the legalities, to which Marshall replied: “He must go.”

And go he did.

Moti was delivered into the arms of the AFP in Brisbane, who were waiting to arrest him there.

On the way to the Brisbane watch house, Julian asked that his interrogation or interview be postponed until the morning: he was exhausted.

He was worrying unnecessarily because not only did they not interview him that night, they have never interviewed him since.

No need, they had attained their goal. Julian had effectively been politically neutralised.



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