Cleghorn….victim of injustice in
A Swiss man falsely
jailed on sex charges in
Cleghorn, a former aid
worker and tourism operator in
In October 2002, Swiss hotelier Rudolf Knuchel successfully defended molestation charges brought against him by the Cambodian Women's Crisis Centre -- the same organisation alleged to have offered five Cambodian girls US$10,000 to accuse Cleghorn of rape.
Mr Knuchel, 59, has since received an apology from the Cambodian interior minister and continues to live in Siam Reap. He said he was arrested in 2000 on charges including raping two boys, trafficking women and children for prostitution, running a brothel, and drug and organ trafficking.
He spent 57 days in prison before his lawyer had him freed on bail before a Siam Reap District Court hearing, in which all but the molestation charges were dropped because of a lack of evidence.
At the 2002 trial, one of the boys confessed he had not been molested by Mr Knuchel.
The boy's mother took the stand and demanded US$10,000 which she said had been promised to her by the crisis centre. The judge threw the case out.
"The whole world
falls on you. After my arrest the media turned on me around the world. It was
so horrible for me and my family in
Mr Knuchel said he
He said he was targeted by the crisis centre because he was a landowner. Cleghorn also insists he was punished by corrupt officials who wanted his land.
Mr Knuchel said the district court judge who had been instrumental in bringing charges against him and Cleghorn had been dismissed for corruption several months ago.
Two Australian men were also in Cambodian prisons on sex charges after crisis centre workers approached young girls offering them US$10,000 to lay rape complaints against them, he said.
Last month, Cleghorn's appeal was conducted and dismissed without his knowledge.
The New Zealand Government had previously raised concerns over the handling of Cleghorn's 2004 trial -- which took just nine hours.
Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry spokeswomen Helen Tunnah said Cambodian officials had not yet responded.
Mr Rider was
considering visiting Cleghorn in his
Denise Ritchie, founder of New Zealand-based child rights group Stop Demand, said she first heard about Cleghorn's case after he was convicted in 2004.
It was astonishing Cleghorn had been denied a proper appeal, she said.
Three other New Zealanders are currently in overseas prisons for sex crimes against children, with sentences ranging from seven to 20 years.