Sex offender had an alibi: family

Matthew Benns
July 13, 2008

Fred Martens with his children, from left,  Jodi, Emily and Leon.

AN AUSTRALIAN pilot jailed for a sex crime in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea was actually flying an aircraft 1000 kilometres away at the time, fresh evidence unearthed by his family shows.

Fred Martens, 59, was convicted of having sex with a 14-year-old village girl in PNG and jailed for 5 years by the Queensland Supreme Court in October 2006.

Martens protested his innocence, arguing the Australian Federal Police investigation had relied on evidence given by his Papuan ex-wife at a time when there was a custody dispute over their children.

A second sex-tourism case against him was thrown out of the Supreme Court in Cairns this year when the girl involved confessed she had made up the allegations.

Martens's brother, Peter Wheatley, has now gathered fresh evidence from the Papua New Guinean Civil Aviation Authority.

Certified documents from the authority confirm details in Martens's pilot's logbook and flight plans that placed him near the West Papua border at the time of the alleged incident in 2001.

"This is a gross travesty of justice," said Mr Wheatley, who is now caring for his brother's seven children at his Queensland farm.

"The evidence we uncovered was not a secret. It was available to the AFP and should have been found as part of a proper investigation."

Mr Wheatley has applied to federal Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus, asking that the case be transferred to the appeals court. Mr Wheatley made a separate application for a free and absolute pardon.

"The horrendous stigma of this terrible crime of pedophilia will live with my brother for years to come, even if he is given an absolute pardon," Mr Wheatley said.

Independent federal MP Bob Katter said he supported Mr Wheatley's plea for a quick resolution to end Martens's incarceration.

"This would be, without doubt, the worst case of flagrant and provable injustice that I can remember. It is clear-cut that he is innocent," Mr Katter said.

"It raises some very serious questions left hanging over elements of the Australian Federal Police.

"I can only describe the case against him as rubbish. The people involved should be absolutely ashamed of themselves."

He called on Mr Debus to give priority to the application to pardon Martens or refer the case to the appeals court.

"There was only one bloke in the aeroplane and it was a long way from where this crime was supposed to happen," Mr Katter said.

A spokeswoman for Mr Debus said: "The department is considering the material provided by the family."

Source: The Sun-Herald