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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 July 2007, 18:15 GMT 19:15 UK
Solomons legal chief is sworn in
Julian Moti
Julian Moti has said he is innocent of the charges
A man facing child-sex charges in Australia has been sworn in as the Solomon Islands attorney-general.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard condemned the appointment of Julian Moti, describing the decision as "provocative and insensitive".

Mr Moti, who is wanted over an alleged child-sex offence in Vanuatu, declared his innocence after being sworn in the Solomons capital, Honiara.

The move has further strained relations between Canberra and Honiara.

Last year, Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare accused Australian peacekeeping troops of undermining his country's sovereignty.

'Justice will triumph'

Mr Moti, a close friend of Mr Sogavare, said Australian attempts to have him extradited over the incident - which allegedly occurred in 1997 - were unjust.

"Justice will finally triumph as well when the responsible Australian prosecutorial authorities confront our government's lawyers to discuss what was fact and what was fiction in the case which they want to mount against me," he said.

Mr Moti, an Australian citizen of Fijian descent, avoided extradition to Australia in October 2006 when he jumped bail while in custody in Papua New Guinea.

A court in Vanuatu has cleared Mr Moti of the charges, but under Australia's anti-paedophile laws, Australian citizens can face trial in their home country for crimes allegedly committed overseas.

Australia has deployed security forces in the Solomons since 2003, when it was invited there by the government to restore order after the country came close to collapse.

Mr Howard said Mr Moti's appointment would not affect the peacekeeping mission.


SEE ALSO
Solomons' attorney-general held
29 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Solomons PM criticises Australia
18 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia issues Solomons threat
13 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Inquiry to probe Solomons riots
14 Jul 06 |  Asia-Pacific
New PM elected in Solomon Islands
04 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Solomons MP faces riot charge
25 Apr 06 |  Asia-Pacific

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