The National – Thursday, December 2, 2010
AUSTRALIAN federal police (AFP) officers concealed evidence and submitted false documents in the prosecution of an Australian pilot on child sex charges, resulting in his wrongful conviction, the man’s lawyers claim.
Fred Martens, who spent 940 days in a Queensland prison after being convicted of the rape of a 14-year-old Papua New Guinea girl in Port Moresby, is suing the federal government for A$45 million, according to AAP.
The 61-year-old was the first to be charged under sex-tourism laws which target Australians who commit sex crimes in Pacific island nations.
However, Queensland’s court of appeal last year quashed the conviction after Marten’s family obtained flight records which proved he was not in Port Moresby on the dates the girl alleged the offence occurred.
In a statement of claim lodged in the Queensland supreme court in Cairns on Monday, Marten’s legal team allege a team of officers from the AFP’s transnational crime unit based in Port Moresby “maliciously prosecuted” their client.
The claim alleges the officer who arrested Martens, Tania Stokes, swore an affidavit claiming department of immigration records proved Martens was in Papua New Guinea on two occasions the girl claimed to have flown with him.
She also submitted a typed record of travel between Australia and PNG by Martens which supported the claim.
The girl claimed she had flown with Martens twice in 2001, in April and September, and that he sexually assaulted her on the second occasion.
However, official immigration records obtained by his legal team under a freedom of information request showed he was in Australia on the first occasion while PNG civil aviation records showed he could not have been with the girl on the September dates.
Martens alleged the prosecution was organised by his ex-wife Raina Martens, with whom he was locked in a bitter custody battle, and the statement of claim alleged she arranged interviews between the girl and police.
The A$45 million damage claim related to the collapse or loss of a number of PNG business ventures owned by Martens as a result of his prosecution and incarceration, including the country’s Royal Flying Doctor Service.
It also said he suffered severe emotional, physical and psychological damage as a result of his prosecution and conviction, including the loss of his daughter Stephanie, who died of malaria in PNG while Martens was awaiting trial.
He believed he would have been able to save her had he not been stranded in Australia with his funds frozen and his passport confiscated.
The federal government will have 28 days to respond to the claim. – AAP