Graham Cleghorn.victim of injustice in Cambodia?

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NZ Herald
January 13 2004

Hundreds from NZ in alien jails
by Julie Middleton

Remember the case of the Gisborne Salvation Army euphonium player who was jailed in Peru for allegedly trying to smuggle out 6kg of cocaine?

Robert James Campbell Stewart, in his mid-60s, is one of the more memorable New Zealanders who have found themselves behind bars in foreign countries.

He was sentenced to seven years' jail in 2001.

Stewart has been out for at least a year, but the builder and father of five no longer lives in Gisborne. And he doesn't want to reflect on his traumatic experience, either. He has, says Salvation Army colleague Russell Garbett "had enough of the publicity".

Not surprising, when you hear about the prison he was in - New Zealand's lock-ups are luxurious by comparison. Lima's Lurigancho Prison, according to a British Medical Journal article by public health consultant Hans Veeken, squashes 6000 people into a space meant for 1600.

It's the sort of place where prisoners are in charge and anything can be had - for a price. Unprotected gay sex is standard and drugs freely available. Diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis are common.

New Zealander Talotofisamoa Selu Lealiifano is one who will observe summer from an Australian cell. Most New Zealanders in prison overseas are in Australia.

Lealiifano is in Western Australia's 317-bed Hakea Prison awaiting a murder trial after the death in Perth of his Oamaru-born policewoman girlfriend, Felicity Jane Park, 22.

Lealiifano, a 27-year-old who moved from New Zealand to Australia in 1995, was arrested after he allegedly fled from the couple's burning beachside property. Firefighters found Ms Park's body in a bedroom.

He is due to appear in a Perth court in early March.

Former Petone resident Graham Cleghorn, 55, faced the New Year in a Cambodian jail, with allegations of sex offences against young girls hanging over his head.

Cleghorn has been living for about a decade in Siam Reap, about 230km from the capital, Phnom Penh, and has a 23-year-old Cambodian wife, who has also been jailed.

Under Cambodian law, says the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, he could be held without charge for up to six months.

Although Aucklander Sun Gang pleaded guilty at trial in China in early November to charges of political subversion and violent abduction, he was then locked up at the Beijing State Security Bureau while awaiting a sentence that was expected just days after trial.

Allegedly a member of the United States-based pro-democracy China Federation Foundation, 44-year-old Sun, who has an ex-wife and two children in Auckland, planned to fly a helium balloon over Beijing and scatter hundreds of leaflets around Tiananmen Square.

Representing himself, Sun admitted also planning to kidnap a state energy company official for a ransom to fund pro-democracy activities. Both activities carry long prison sentences.

Sun's Auckland lawyer, John Richards, hopes the wait for sentence may work in Sun's favour: "I'm hoping that the longer it takes, the better the outcome may be."

Most New Zealanders getting in trouble overseas are involved in far less serious stuff, but skirmishes with the law keep consular staff busy.

In the financial year to last June, New Zealand's 48 overseas posts assisted in 432 arrest and detention cases involving New Zealanders.

That could have included advice on lawyers, help contacting family, court appearances, and visits to police stations or immigration centres, says Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Emma Reilly.

"The message we'd be keen to get across," says ministry spokesman Brad Tattersfield, "would be that people have to be aware of local customs and practices."

Scraps in public, questioning the authorities or trying to evade police are the sorts of behaviours, he says, that could be viewed far more seriously overseas than here.

So what can you do if you wind up behind bars?

If you get in trouble overseas, don't expect that the New Zealand representative will bail you out.

The ministry cannot select a lawyer, give legal advice, give you money, get you out of jail, or get involved in the judicial process.

It won't forward mail or go shopping for you.

The ministry suggests that anyone detained or arrested ask for legal assistance or permission to contact the nearest New Zealand Post.

But it adds a warning: "Stay calm and co-operate ... Do not sign any statement without seeking legal advice."

Overseas posts can give arrested people advice on what to do, can help you with language barriers, provide a list of English-speaking lawyers, inform your family and arrange for them to send you money. Consular staff may be able to attend a final court hearing.

If you are found guilty and can't avoid doing time, consular staff will seek approval for prison visits by family and friends, visit people in jails where conditions are known to be really bad, ensure any medical and dental problems are brought to the attention of prison authorities, and take up "any justified and serious complaint about ill treatment and discrimination".

Otherwise, you're on your own.




Australia: 565 (503 male, 62 female)*
England and Wales: 7 (5 male and 2 female, no charges specified)**
Japan: 5. 4 drug-related (genders unknown), one causing bodily injury (man)
Thailand: 3 drug-related (two men, one woman)
France: 2 drug-related (men)
Indonesia: 1 drug possession (man)
Cambodia: 1 sex offences (man)
China: 1 political subversion and violent abduction (man)
Scotland: 1 petty crimes (man)
Italy: 1 people-smuggling (woman)
Samoa: 1 drug-related (man)
Austria: 1 handling stolen goods (man)
United States 8 (genders not supplied) ***
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as of November 2003. Numbers represent those jailed who have sought consular help, include those convicted as well as those jailed awaiting trial, and cannot be taken as comprehensive.
* Figure correct to June 30, 2002, from Prisoners in Australia, Australian Bureau of Statistics.
** Figure correct to June 3, 2003, from Home Office, Britain.
*** Figures to end of November 2003, from Federal Bureau of Prisons.


Of the 565 New Zealand-born people in Australian prisons:
* 89 per cent are male.
* Nearly half of them (46 per cent) are behind bars in New South Wales; 27 per cent are in Queensland jails.
* New Zealand-born people make up 2.5 per cent of the Australian prison population.
Source: Prisoners in Australia, Australian Bureau of Statistics. Figures as of June 30, 2002 (latest).