Graham Cleghorn….victim of injustice in Cambodia?

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Newstalk ZB
February 19 2006;  05:48

NZ must seek clarification of man's status

There are claims there is little New Zealand can do over the case of one of its nationals who is serving 20 years for sex offences in Cambodia.

The five teenage girls who made the sex allegations against Graham Cleghorn are reported to have since retracted them.

Now it has come to light that an unsuccessful appeal against Mr Cleghorn's sentence was held in secret last month without his lawyer or New Zealand officials knowing.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it is demanding answers from its Cambodian counterparts.

International relations expert Paul Buchanan says the best thing New Zealand can do is seek clarification of his status and put diplomatic pressure on the Cambodian government to review the sentence.

He says the government has to be careful it is not putting diplomatic pressure on another government over the case of a man who may be guilty.

But he says the New Zealand government is responsible for making inquiries into the nature of the trial.

Meanwhile Amnesty International says it is time for intervention into the way Cambodia's legal system operates.

The New Zealand branch says it is deeply concerned about the way 55-year-old Mr Cleghorn was treated during his trial.

Amnesty chief Ced Simpson is not surprised though.

He says it is not the first case they have heard of like this and now is the time for the New Zealand government to speak up.

Amnesty says it is time to step up the pressure on the Cambodian government over its trial system.

Ced Simpson believes there are real concerns about how open Cambodia's courts are to abuse.

He says it is clear the judiciary has been manipulated by the government in Cambodia at various times.

He says the New Zealand government has a duty to protest.

He says it may not succeed, but must try.