Moti – unless you are in Queensland or possibly anywhere in Australia

In today’s SMH:

The Fiji-born lawyer denies the charges, saying they were dismissed in a Vanuatu court and revived by Australian authorities to prevent him becoming attorney-general.

But Moti fought his deportation from the Solomon Islands to the very end before finally being put on a plane to Australia to face the courts.

I’ve no idea whether Moti is guilty or not: I wasn’t there (I swear!) and he hasn’t been tried.  Even if he had been tried, I would only ever know he was guilty in the the sense that he had been found so, and conversely likewise if he were acquitted.  The timing of the revival of these charges does seem to be a remarkable coincidence.  The AFP say it isn’t, but the problem is that the AFP charged Dr Haneef, so their credit is pretty well shot on this sort of issue.

In the meantime, why this But?  If you aren’t guilty and maintain that the offence has already been dealt with, why the hell should you return to Australia for a trial?  The suggestion in this but is that there is some kind of implied admssion of guilt or at least shirking of an honest determination of the issue in Moti’s reluctance to return to Australia.  That’s sloppy journalism.


I’ve thought about this a little more.  On one view Moti is a fugitive from justice because of the peculiar circumstances in which he left PNG.  I think my real objection to the but is that it entails an intrusion of comment into what ought to be a purely factual story. I still think that is sloppy journalism, because what it means is that the journalist has accepted somebody’s spin and then passed it off as reportage.  There was more of this in a further story, which included the following:

Moti claimed that in 1999 a Vanuatu magistrate cleared him of child sex charges involving a 13-year-old girl. However, it was reported earlier this year that Vanuatu prosecutors had sought to have the decision overturned.

Once again, what’s the however doing there?  Maybe it’s just an attempt at graceful prose, but it would be better if journalists eschewed such editorializing adverbs altogether.

Do not read the rest of this if you are in Queensland! or anywhere else in Australia!

Finally, and bizarrely, you will see that Moti (presumably as a result of his being charged and I expect because a (then) young person is involved) has now turned into an “Australian lawyer and former politician.” The latter description seems wrong and presumptuous, since it doesn’t appear that the Solomon Islands Attorney-General is in fact a politician (he seems to be more like a solicitor-general – his appointment was revoked by the SI Public Service Commission) and alternatively, what is to say, if he was a politician, that he has given that up? It appears he cannot be identified in Queensland.  Beyond that, I guess we have Mediawatch’s po-faced self-righteousness on this front to blame for this circumlocution. 

On reflection, as the law is a Commowealth law, you possibly shouldn’t read this if you are anywhere in Australia and its territories, which doesn’t leave many people who would be interested really.

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