Rights group says corruption rife in Halloran sex case
By John Silvester
A human rights investigation has raised serious concerns about how Victoria Police superintendent Peter Halloran came to be charged with child sex offences while working for the United Nations in Sierra Leone.
The investigation reported claims of political interference, police brutality, attempts to pervert the course of justice, intimidation, unlawful imprisonment and faked witness statements in the prosecution case.
The National Forum for Human Rights and the Trade Union Coalition of Sierra Leone interviewed many of the key witnesses, including the teenage girl who the prosecution claims was sexually assaulted by Halloran.
The girl, who gave her age as 14, told the investigators that she had not been molested by the 56-year-old policeman and said she had been pressured to make statements against him.
Concern for the girl's welfare was first raised by former Tasmanian detective Mandy Cordwell, who was investigating war crimes with Halloran at the UN-backed Special Court of Sierra Leone, and shared a house with the former homicide squad chief in Freetown.
In an interview with the human rights group, the schoolgirl said: "Miss Mandy said she wanted me to be her friend... she wanted to take me to town to buy me some new dresses."
But the girl said Ms Cordwell instead took her to be interviewed by a woman, believed to be a local police officer. "She asked me whether Pa Peter (Halloran) had any sexual affair with me during my two nights stay and I told her no. But Miss Mandy again interrupted and said I was telling lies."
The girl said that the two women then pressured her, "telling me to say that Pa Peter played with my breast and sexually assault me, promising they will build a house for my family and take me to the United States . . . so I said if that is what you want me to say, I agree, so I said it".
A separate UN inquiry has criticised Ms Cordwell's actions as unprofessional and found the girl was tricked into making a statement against Halloran.
Yesterday the girl continued to give evidence in the High Court case but was declared a hostile witness by the prosecution, because she refused to support the assault claims.
One of the girl's relatives told the Human Rights investigation that the Attorney-General, F. M. Carew, had tried to intimidate potential witnesses.
Another family member said he was beaten by a senior police officer for not co-operating with the prosecution case.
Halloran's trial is continuing.