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Sex, guns, drugs and terrorism

Categories: Accountability, Arc of instability, Australian Federal Police, Indonesia, PNG, Rule of Law, Solomon Islands

by: Bakchos
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What a combination, but what do they have to do with Blak and Black? To steal a line from Gore Vidal’s Caligula, “everything and nothing”.

Nothing, because Blak and Black is a site dedicated to raising awareness about political corruption in Australia and how this impacts on the legal rights of the indigenous peoples of Australia and the Pacific. Everything, because Australia’s child sex-tourism laws are being abused by the Australian Federal Police in an effort to deflect attention away from the illicit trade in guns, drugs and terror that is carried on from Indonesia through Papua New Guinea’s Western Province to Australia via the Torres Strait and the Solomon’s via Bougainville.

Holding staring, if unwanted roles in this drama, are Capt. Fredrick Martens and AFP Agent Leisa James. For those of you who watched the premier of the Nine Network’s new series AFP on Tuesday 26th April 2011, AFP Agent Leisa James was the female Agent featured in this first episode about the Afghan asylum seekers. AFP Agent Leisa James is also mentioned in the statement of facts in a Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim filed in the National Court of PNG at Waigani on 17 February 2011 by Peter Pena & Associates. The plaintiff in these proceedings is none other than Fredrick Martens.

The allegation concerning AFP Agent Leisa James is that she uplifted and concealed a passport application that Mr. Martens was relying on to assist in his defence relating to charges brought against him by the Australian Federal Police under Australia’s child sex-tourism laws.

So significant was the prosecution of Mr. Martens to the Australian government that it rated a significant mention in the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions Annual Report 2006 – 2007:

Frederick Martens was an Australian citizen and pilot, aged 56 years of age at the time of the offences. He flew aircraft carrying passengers and cargo to and from Bensbach Wildlife Lodge in the Western Providence of Papua New Guinea. He had a business relationship with a traditional land owner of that area and had offered to arrange for the education in Australia of the land owner’s daughter, who was aged 14 years. On the pretence of flying the girl from the remote village Morehead to Port Moresby to arrange for her travel documentation, Martens took her to a Port Moresby club and then back to his house in Port Moresby. He had sexual intercourse with her on a date between 10 September 2001 and 16 September 2001.

Martens was charged with having sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 16 years, while outside Australia in Papua New Guinea, contrary to section 50BA of the Crimes Act 1914.

Martens pleaded not guilty to the offence. After a fully contested committal, the matter was committed for trial to the Supreme Court of Queensland in Cairns. The trial commenced on 23 October 2007 and lasted five days. Martens was found guilty.

On 30 October 2006, the defendant was sentenced to five and a half years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of three years. The defendant appealed against his conviction and sentence, but on 20 April 2007 the Queensland Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal. The Court described the girl as ‘an unsophisticated village girl still at primary school in a remote part of Papua New Guinea’. It noted that the maximum penalty was 17 years imprisonment and that the defendant had not cooperated with the administration of justice and had showed no remorse. The Court described the defendant’s behaviour as ‘exploitative, predatory and despicable’ and noted that the offences had ‘a very significant detrimental impact’ on the girl.

Before I go on it should be noted that as a prelude to his annual report the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions notes that:

The DPP is responsible for the prosecution of crimes against the laws of the Commonwealth and the recovery of the proceeds of that crime. The DPP is independent of the political process…

… In considering whether to prosecute any one of those referrals, the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth is applied. The Prosecution Policy contains a two step test which must be met before prosecution action can be pursued. First, there must be sufficient evidence provided to the DPP by the investigative agency to justify the conclusion that there is a reasonable prospect of obtaining a conviction. If that first limb of the test is met, then the matter will be prosecuted unless it is not in the public interest to do so. Public interest factors, which are set out in the Prosecution Policy, are numerous, but it is fair to say that if the matter involves an allegation of serious wrongdoing, it is unlikely that the DPP will decide that the matter should not be prosecuted in the public interest.

Fair enough, but that is nothing more than would be expected in a democracy that, like Australia, is subject to ‘the rule of law’. Before you get too excited, there is a sequel to Mr. Marten’s drama. Mr. Martens had his conviction quashed by the Queensland Court of Appeal in 2009 with the Court finding that:

[169] After his arrest the petitioner was released on bail, a condition of which was that he not leave Australia. It was therefore impossible for him to travel to PNG to conduct his own inquiries of the CA Authority. It was, in any event, eminently reasonable for him to rely upon the resources of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the AFP to obtain the records. They undertook the task and informed the petitioner that the records did not exist.

[170] The records have always existed and have now been produced. It is a poor reflection upon the two organisations that one should have failed to find them, and denied their existence, and the other object to their use in the reference on the ground that the petitioner should have obtained them earlier. (My emphasis) (R v Martens [2009] QCA 351)

Either the the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions was duped by the Australian Federal Police or his prosecutorial service was subject to outside influences which would be of concern, given his stated mandate of being “… independent of the political process …”

So tainted was the Martens prosecution that even Far North Queensland’s (FNQ) own Bob Katter had this to say of the trial:

“You know this was not a fair trial, not even remotely.”

Well Bob, never a truer word was spoken, but what possible motivation could the CDPP and AFP have in fitting Mr Martens up? This is where we come to the guns, drugs and terrorism part of the drama:

Frederick Martens was an Australian citizen and pilot, aged 56 years of age at the time of the offences. He flew aircraft carrying passengers and cargo to and from Bensbach Wildlife Lodge in the Western Providence of Papua New Guinea.

In 2003 the Bensbach Motel, situated near the Indonesian border in the Western Province of PNG, was raided after a tip off. The police confiscated both firearms and ammunition which demonstrates that trading in illegal guns, drugs and money is occurring between the borders of Australia, Indonesia and PNG. This was the same year in which the AFP commenced their tainted investigations into Mr. Martens for child sex offences.

The unprotected land border that extends for 760km between PNG and Indonesia is invitingly open to illicit dealers in guns and drugs. Indonesia’s own internal political struggle between the Organisiai Papua Merdeka (OPM) for an independent West Papua (or Irian Jaya) started about 1969, following a staged referendum. This protracted armed political struggle against the central government in Jakarta has been well documented and there is no doubt that the arms used by elements of the OPM make their way to PNG. Equally, PNG is arguably a source of arms and ammunition for the armed struggle of the OPM. Further security implications of border management with Indonesia derive from the political events in East Timor, Aceh and Ambon. These have had a profound impact on the bellicose political struggle in West Papua. Arms have been smuggled into PNG and West Papua and have been used in the armed struggle against Jakarta for the political autonomy and ultimate independence of West Papua.

Our drama now takes an unexpected twist and moves east towards the Solomons via Bougainville. Over ten years of civil strife and armed struggle on Bougainville (until late 1997) resulted in the widespread presence of guns on the island. There was, for example, the Kangu Beach massacre by the BRA in the Buin District in September 1996. Over 30 high-powered weapons including 10 machine guns and four 60mm mortars and mortar bombs, hand grenades and a large quantity of ammunition were stolen and taken to an area known as Laguai. The subsequent surrender of weapons yielded only a handful of guns.

Bougainville and Solomon Islands were both major battlegrounds for the allies and the Japanese during the Pacific campaign, generating a significant source of weapons and ammunition, including unexploded bombs from World War Two. During the Bougainville conflict, many high-powered guns and ammunition supplies came into the hands of the insurrectionists (BRA) from this source.

The illegal gun trade between Bougainville and Solomon Islands generated considerable concern for both the Solomon Islands and PNG governments. The Solomon Islands police minister, Michael Maena, said in an interview with the Post-Courier correspondent in Honiara on 9th August 2004 that:

There were still strong suspicions that some trading in weapons was going on between the people of Bougainville and Solomon Islands.

A 2005 report of weapons and ammunition being smuggled to the Solomon Island’s by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) could be related to undeclared items associated with the surrender of weapons and ammunition in Bougainville, supervised by United Nations weapons disposal teams, although there is little evidence to prove this.

Who is doing what to whom in the so called ‘arc of instability’ remains unclear, though we do have this comment from BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific on February 21, 2011:

West Papua Media and illegal arms smuggling investigators have long raised this issue with the PNG and Australian governments, however evidence collected from the ground has implicated Indonesian military sources, not West Papuan opposition sources. The reporting in this piece is disingenuous and misleading by lumping this together with Operation Sunset Merona, implying that West Papuan refugees were involved in weapons smuggling. This has never been the case. Widespread research has documented a pathway of Indonesian military officers exchanging weapons for Marijuana with Raskol gangs from the PNG highlands, and with Indonesian officials in PNG openly flooding the country with small arms via illegal logging networks.

The same Australian Federal Police that so mishandled the Martens investigation and trial are responsible along with the Australian Customs service for patrolling Australia’s boarders and keeping illegal guns out of the hands of criminals here. In the lead up to the last NSW State election, then NSW opposition police spokesman Michael Gallacher said there was increasing use of weapons and illicit drugs by criminals in NSW due to “weak links” in the nation’s border controls and the AFP and Customs needed to “step up” to solve the problem.

Added to the mystery surrounding Mr Martens and guns, sex and terrorism along the tri-national borders of Australia, PNG and Indonesia, we have the continuing mystery surrounding the shooting of Australian Drew Grant near the giant Freeport gold, copper and silver mine in the Indonesian province of Papua, an issue which warrants further interrogation.

Grant was shot and killed on July 11 2009, while travelling in a car with four other employees of the Freeport Mine. Who carried out the shootings remains a mystery, with recriminations and accusations abounding. To add to this confusion Australian Federal Police officers were sent to Timika to assist the Indonesian investigation.

In keeping with apparent Australian Federal Police investigation protocols, the investigation has been far from transparent, which has served no other purpose than to add to the mystery surrounding the attack.

Evidence was tampered with, and bullets in Mr. Grant’s body were removed before the pathologist was able to conduct the autopsy, whilst in the custody of Australian Embassy officials.

Have the Australian Federal Police been used in an attempt to cover the identity of those who were really responsible for Mr. Grant’s shooting? Whilst the actual bullets that killed Mr. Grant have gone missing, the Indonesian State news agency Antara has revealed that bullet casings recovered from the scene were specially made by PT PINDAD for the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI). Australia supplies Aus Steyr rifles, which use the bullets found. If the weapons used in the shootings are found to be of Australian supply for TNI use, questions must be raised.

Whatever the motivations are behind the actions of the Australian Federal Police in the Martens and Grant fiasco’s, one thing remains certain – the actions of the Australian Federal Police have been far from transparent and the actions of the CDPP far from honourable – a lack of transparency in Australia’s policing and prosecutorial services can herald naught but disaster for our democracy.

Perhaps there is yet a sequel to be written to Gore Vidal’s Caligula.

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