Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Australian Federal Police Stuff Up Again

How many times can the AFP afford to stuff things up? Yet another AFP fail.

From The Age.

Police stuff-up ends sex trial
December 16, 2009
CHILD sex abuse charges against former Solomon Islands attorney-general Julian Moti were thrown out yesterday after a Supreme Court judge found the Australian Federal Police's payment of $150,000 to the alleged victim and her family had brought ''the administration of justice into disrepute''.

Mr Moti, an Australian citizen, was arrested at Brisbane International Airport on December 27, 2007, and charged with raping a 13-year-old girl in Noumea and Vanuatu in 1997.

Brisbane Supreme Court Justice Debbie Mullins yesterday upheld Mr Moti's application to stay the proceedings against him, ruling ''the prosecution of these charges against [him] constitutes an abuse of process''.

In a damning indictment of the Australian Federal Police's handling of the case, Justice Mullins found the AFP's payment of $150,000 in living expenses to the alleged victim and her family was ''an affront to the public conscience''.

She said the AFP paid for all the living costs of the girl, her brother, their parents and their six dependents to ensure they gave evidence in court against Mr Moti.

''The giving of the financial support was made after a threat by the complainant and her family members to withdraw as witnesses,'' Justice Mullins said.

She said the amount of living expenses for which the AFP paid was ''of great concern'' as it exceeded the usual witness subsistence payments.

''It raises questions about the integrity of the administration of the Australian justice system when witnesses who live in a foreign country, where it is alleged an Australian citizen committed acts of child sex abuse, expect to be fully supported by the Australian Government, until they give evidence at the trial in Australia of the Australian citizen,'' Justice Mullins said.

''The conduct of the AFP … squarely raises whether the court can countenance the means used to achieve the end of keeping the prosecution of the charges against [Mr Moti] on foot.''

Justice Mullins ruled that ''the payments by the AFP to the witnesses who live in Vanuatu bring the administration of justice into disrepute to such an extent that [Mr Moti] must succeed on his claim of abuse of process on that basis''.

The judge rejected other legal arguments that Mr Moti's deportation from the Solomons was ''a disguised extradition'' and his arrest at Brisbane International Airport was ''unlawful''. She also rejected claims that the AFP investigation into the charges against Mr Moti was politically motivated.

A spokeswoman for the AFP said last night that the organisation was reviewing the judgment. ''It is not appropriate for the AFP to comment on this particular case.''