Graham Cleghorn….victim of injustice in Cambodia?

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Agence France-Presse (via ClariNet)
October 24, 2003

New Zealander arrested, Cambodian teenager jailed for rapes

Phnom Penh - Authorities have arrested a New Zealand man for allegedly raping three girls, and jailed a Cambodian youth for raping a seven-year-old girl, officials said Friday

The arrests and jailing of New Zealander Graham Robert Cleghorn, 55, and his Cambodian wife Bot Keur, 23, were announced amid a government crackdown on sex crimes, particularly cases involving children.

Sam Bunthorn, bureau chief of anti-human trafficking of northwestern Siem Reap province, said Cleghorn was taken into custody after the courts issued warrants for the couple's arrest.

He said the wife was charged with procuring young women for Cleghorn, who has lived in Cambodia for 10 years and worked as a guide at the famed Angkor Wat temples near Siem Reap.

"We have investigated this man since earlier this year. Every night, he would take one girl to sleep with him, and if any of the girls were hurt, he would pay her two to five dollars as compensation," he said.

Sam Bunthorn said police took another five girls under 15 years -- the age of consent in Cambodia -- from the couple's house.

The girls were being interviewed by police, who said further charges against the pair could follow.

The girls were allegedly lured into the couple's house and were paid 20 dollars a month living allowance in return for housekeeping duties, he said, adding that police also found an illegal gun.

In southeastern Svay Rieng province 15-year-old Chan Sovannarong was jailed for 12 years for raping a seven year-old girl after the girl's parents filed a complaint to police, provincial court director Pen Sarith told AFP.

Pen Sarith said the court heard the case over this week, adding that Chan Sovannarong had initially confessed to the rape "because he always witnessed sex workers having sex while way he walked to school."

The judge said the youth thought this was normal.

"The youth then denied he raped the girl, but we had enough evidence to prove beyond doubt that he surely raped the girl," he said, referring to the results of medical examinations.

Last week, a Phnom Penh court jailed two Vietnamese men and two woman for 15 years each after they were found guilty of running one of this country's largest known child prostitution rackets.

Earlier this month, an 18-year-old Cambodian man was sentenced to 10 years in jail for raping a 14-month-old girl.