Mr Aripaea Salmon is the father of the girl at the centre of the Julian Moti sex tourism allegations, which were reignited by the Australian Federal Police nearly a decade after the original charges were dismissed by a court in Vanuatu in 1999, amid allegations that the Australian Government wanted Moti removed at Attorney-General of the Solomon Islands because of his actual or perceived opposition to the deployment of RAMSI there.
The Australian Federal Police justify their continued pursuit of Moti by arguing that Moti bribed the magistrate who heard his case in Vanuatu. While this might all seem a bit murky, the quagmire deepens when we consider comments made by Australian lawyer and journalist David Marr:
“…six disturbing statements [the complainant] made over … four months. All are in English, though it appears she only spoke French. None was in her own writing. None was sworn. The underlying story doesn’t change from statement to statement, but details are contradictory. Others appear fanciful. She claimed he had three testicles, but Port Vila GP Dr Frank Spooner would later examine Moti and concluded he had two…. Dates are changed; at one stage she withdrew her allegations entirely, then renewed them a few weeks later saying her previous statement was ‘not of my own free will’ and asked police to investigate. In several statements she described being beaten and raped by Moti but in others that she loved him. ‘I wanted to say that I love Julian Moti very much,’ she stated in March 1998. ‘He is a reach [rich] man he can take me anywhere I wanted and this is my belief of my future with Julian because he is so kind…”.
Marr and Wilkinson; Strange case against fugitive lawyer Julian Moti SMH October 7, 2006.
[The Australian Federal Police are all] superficial and artificial people – Aripaea Salmon
On 17 March, 2011 journalist Susan Merrell interviewed Aripaea Salmon on the island of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu.
During the course of his interview with Susan Merrell, Aripaea Salmon stated in no uncertain terms that he could not be sure if the offences for which Moti has been with by the Australian Federal Police had actually occurred.
I was swept along in a case not of my choosing and over which my family had little control. The child-sex tourism charges with which Moti had been charged had been presented to my family as a fait accompli and no one in my family had made any subsequent complaint after the case was settled in Vanuatu. The Australian Federal Police said that if we did not cooperate it would go against us.”
Further on in this interview Salmon canvassed the possibility that his daughter might have been guided by a misplaced sense of responsibility to her family who were facing deportation from Vanuatu at that time and situation that the Australian Federal Police apparently manipulated to their advantage. “The Australian Federal Police said that if we did not cooperate it would go against us.”
“I’m disgusted that the mighty Australian government should use a small girl in such a way”
When asked by Susan Merrell if he thought that the charges against Moti were politically motivated and driven by the Australian Government Salmon responded with “I’m disgusted that the mighty Australian government should use a small girl in such a way.” He then described how his family had been “crushed” and ‘broken” by the case and he laid the blame at the feet of the Australian Government.
Salmon said he repeatedly asked for a lawyer- preferably bi-lingual (Salmon’s first language is French) when the Australian Federal Police first contacted the family. Salmon went on to say that the Australian Federal Police refused his request to be legally represented. He also stated that the Australian Federal Police had coached the family in what to say in their statements for the prosecution.
Salmon went on to record an apology to his family, Julian Moti’s family “especially his mother” and the governments of the Pacific who had been hurt by this case.
In particular he apologised to Sir Michael Somare and the people of Papua New Guinea and to Manasseh Sogavare who he praised for his efforts to protect Moti.
Salmon claimed he wanted the case to end and for his family to be left in peace.
“I am sick,” he said “I don’t know how much time I have left. This case has to stop.”