OFFICERS from the Australian Federal Police allegedly stole and concealed documents that could have helped a former pilot and businessman fight allegations he had raped a 14-year-old girl in PNG.

Fred Martens, a millionaire working in Papua New Guinea, served more than 2 years in prison after being convicted under Australian child sex tourism laws. But after his family found some of the missing documents he earned a rare second appeal in November 2009 and had his conviction quashed.

In two multimillion-dollar compensation claims Mr Martens, 62, pictured, is now suing the Australian and PNG governments, and members of the AFP and PNG police, over their alleged misconduct. The claims allege his false prosecution led to the failure of his businesses and the loss of PNG assets - including 11 boats, six planes and dozens of construction and earth-moving vehicles.

This is the latest in a series of embarrassing cases involving the AFP, which last month settled a claim with the Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef. Former Guantanamo detainee Mamdouh Habib has also received compensation from the federal government, while actor Paul Hogan is considering suing the government over its failed prosecution of him on tax matters.

Mr Martens accuses an AFP agent of perjury, trying to cover up problems with the investigation, perverting the course of justice and malicious prosecution. The officer had tried to ''amass evidence to bolster a case against [Mr Martens] regardless of its truth or falsity'', ''deliberately ignored obvious inconsistencies'' in the girl's statements, and agreed with PNG officers to conceal various documents, the damages claim says.

The girl, who cannot be named, said Mr Martens had twice - in March and mid-September 2001 - flown her from her home in Western Province to the capital, Port Moresby, where she applied for a passport and visa to attend school in Australia. She said during the second trip she stayed at his home, where she was assaulted. But Mr Martens insisted he had only flown her to Port Moresby once, in August 2001, and that they had stayed in separate rooms at the home of his friend. He also denies he ever assaulted her.

Soon after his arrest in August 2004 he had asked investigating AFP agents to obtain various records and documents about his flights and her passport application, which he said would prove the girl's statement was wrong.

But many of these documents, which could prove the flight was in August, were never produced at his trial. He was convicted and lost an appeal, but was later granted a second review.

The missing records that formed the centre of the case, and compensation claim, are:

  • The girl's certified passport application.
  • Plane refuelling records.
  • Civil aviation flight invoices.
  • Australian immigration records of his movements.

The AFP officer stated in an affidavit that the girl's passport application could not be produced because it had been stolen from the PNG immigration office. But a PNG police officer later swore two AFP officers had removed the application, months before Mr Martens was charged.

A statement from a doctor who certified the photos taken for the girl's passport application, confirming when she was in Port Moresby, was also never produced in court, according to his PNG compensation claim.

PNG police said they had inquired about refuelling records, but they approached the wrong fuel company in the wrong town and no records were provided, the compensation claim alleges.

The AFP officer swore PNG's Civil Aviation Authority had advised it had not kept records of the flight. But Mr Martens's partner later obtained records of the plane's take-offs, movements and landings over the counter from the authority.

In the appeal judgment, the court found it reflected poorly on the AFP that it had failed to find the flight records. ''Had [they] been put into evidence at the trial it would not have been open to the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt the petitioner was guilty.''

The AFP officer also said that Australian immigration files showed Mr Martens was in PNG at the time of both alleged flights, attaching a typed version of Australian records. But Mr Martens later obtained the full records under Australian freedom-of-information laws showing he was in Australia at the time of the alleged first flight and near the Indonesian border at the time of the alleged rape in September.

The Australian damages claim also says a complaint by his family to the AFP's standards and ethics unit was investigated by one of the agents who had been seconded to PNG for the original investigation. The complaint was dismissed.

In a brief response to the Australian claim, the Australian government and one AFP agent argue his claim was ''irregular'', had been laid under the wrong law and in the wrong court. An application to have the claim thrown out of court is to be heard in Cairns in mid-February.


Mid-September 2001: alleged rape in PNG

August 2004: Martens charged in Australia

October 2006: sentenced to minimum 3 years' jail

April 2007: appeal dismissed

November 2007: another girl withdraws allegations

September 2008: government rejects application for a pardon

March 2009: Federal Court orders government to reconsider application

April 2009: government refers case to the Qld Court of Appeal

November 2009: conviction quashed

November 2010: Australian compensation claim lodged

January 2011: PNG compensation claim lodged