Thursday, February 04, 2010

Wronged Australian pilot sues for $45 million

The notorious Australian Federal Police again: They just KNOW -- evidence be damned

A QUEENSLAND pilot wrongfully jailed for nearly 1000 days on false child-rape claims says the Australian Federal Police made a decision to "get the bastard" before their bungled case was exposed.

Frederick Martens' $45 million compensation claim against the Federal Government will be based on the shattering effects the flawed case had on his life and his multimillion-dollar businesses.

Mr Martens, 61, was released from jail in north Queensland last year on bail before the Court of Appeal quashed his conviction and set aside his jail term.

The court slammed the way the AFP and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions handled the case.

The investigation into Mr Martens coincided with the Federal Government's attempt to take a more direct role in Papua New Guinean affairs under a $1 billion "Enhanced Co-operation Program".

That push was realised in June 2004 when the PNG Government granted Australia's wish that its officers receive immunity to work in the northern nation.

Mr Martens was arrested two months later at Cairns airport for the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl in September 2001. Three days after the arrest, the AFP's deployment to PNG began.

"The AFP had to please PNG by showing how superior their performance was, that they could do things the Papua New Guineans couldn't do themselves," Mr Martens told The Courier-Mail.

"(The AFP) thought they'd just been given an opportunity on a plate and thought 'we'll get the bastard and we'll use this politically and diplomatically'."

The Courier-Mail forwarded questions to the AFP last Friday, but despite repeated calls to the organisation, it had not responded by last night.

In 2006, Mr Martens was convicted in the Cairns Supreme Court and sentenced to 5 1/2 years' jail for raping the PNG girl in Port Moresby.

After Mr Martens lost an appeal, his legal team and his family retraced the original investigation and located documents the AFP had repeatedly denied existed.

The documents, first revealed by The Courier-Mail in 2008, confirmed Mr Martens' alibi that he was 1000km from Port Moresby on the night of the alleged rape.

Mr Martens was released on bail last May and his conviction was overturned and his jail term set aside by the Court of Appeal six months later.

"The records have always existed and have now been produced," the Court of Appeal justices wrote in their judgment.

"It is a poor reflection upon the two organisations that one (AFP) should have failed to find them, and denied their existence, and the other (CDPP) object to their use in the reference on the ground that the petitioner should have obtained them earlier."

A second case against Mr Martens, also involving an underage PNG girl, imploded before trial in 2008 when the complainant backed out and withdrew her complaint.

Original report here

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