Aussie pilot sues federal govt for $45m


Australian Federal Police 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 $45 million.

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 Mr 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, Mr 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 Mr Martens, Tania Stokes, swore an affidavit claiming Department of Immigration records proved Mr 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 Mr Martens which supported the claim.

The girl claimed she had flown with Mr 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 show he was in Australia on the first occasion while PNG civil aviation records show he could not have been with the girl on the September dates.

Mr Martens alleges 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 alleges she arranged interviews between the girl and police.

The $45 million damage claim relates to the collapse or loss of a number of PNG business ventures owned by Mr Martens as a result of his prosecution and incarceration, including the country's Royal Flying Doctor Service.

It also says 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 Mr Martens was awaiting trial.

He believes 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.

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