A breakthrough may be near in the Jamie Koeleman murder case that could mean his jailing is one of Victoria’s most serious cases of wrongful conviction.
The case is the subject of a petition for mercy, currently under review by a criminal law division within the state Department of Justice.
Frits Maaten has been campaigning for Koeleman’s release for over nine years after he was jailed in 1999 for the murder of gay businessman Francis Barry Arnoldt, found stabbed to death in a Brunswick park in October 1991.
Tongues have been wagging in the gay community following a recent Sunday Herald Sun feature on inconsistencies in the case.
The Sun quoted Melbourne University Law School Associate Professor Andrew Palmer who said  he was -œtroubled by a number of aspects of the conviction.
Maaten made a petition for mercy to the state Attorney-General’s office on Koeleman’s behalf in December 2007. He is awaiting remaining documents and a pathology report to conclude all evidence to support the petition.
-œIf this case is found to be a wrongful conviction, with what I’m alleging then this is the biggest injustice to occur to a gay person in Australia, Maaten told Southern Star.
-œI’m pretty hopeful of a breakthrough.
Maaten’s campaign for Koeleman’s release rests on pointing to inconsis-tencies in the evidence against Koeleman.
Maaten alleges during the investigation police failed to look at evidence which suggests Arnoldt was killed in his own home and the knife claimed to have been used in the attack was too big for the wounds sustained.
Maaten alleges Koeleman’s confession, which lies at the centre of the evidence against him, is not consistent with the facts of the case. Koeleman misidentified what Arnoldt was wearing and claims Koeleman drove to the scene do not tally with his lack of access to a car.
Maaten said Koeleman’s confession five years after Arnoldt’s death was a story made up from news reports of the crime to impress a former boyfriend.
According to news reports, two days before his death, Arnoldt told his long-time partner William Joseph King he intended to change his will so several properties he owned would go to charity.
The victim did not have a chance to make those changes, however, and the properties were inherited by King, who has since died.
To publicise his claims, Maaten published a book last year about the case, Justice For Jamie: The Mistaken Incarceration of Jamie Koeleman.  The book formed the basis of the petition.
Koeleman remains in jail after three trials and an appeal in 2000 which failed to overturn the court’s decision.
Maaten has been assisting the Department of Justice in their inquiries into the evidence handed over and said he has presented -œa lot more evidence than was in the book.
-œI’m confidently optimistic on Jamie’s behalf that a decision will be forthcoming, he said.
If a petition for mercy is upheld, a recommendation is made from the premier to the state governor who has the power to grant Koeleman an early release by fresh appeal, a retrial or a pardon.
Koeleman, who maintains his innocence, has served ten years of a 15-year minimum sentence.
He was reportedly cautious about news of the potential breakthrough.

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