Cleghorn….victim of injustice in
A world away from his homeland, Kiwi Graham Cleghorn sits in a filthy, overcrowded Cambodian prison cell. Waiting.
More than two years after he was convicted of raping five teenage Cambodian girls, the former traffic officer, paramedic and aid worker sits in his maximum-security prison cell, waiting to find out if he will ever get the chance to clear his name of crimes he says he did not commit.
"If I was in here for murder, I would walk around here with my head held high. I would rather be called a murderer. To be called a sex offender, to be charged with rape -- rape I didn't commit -- that takes every last shred of dignity," he said in November.
The New Zealand Government has twice raised concerns with Cambodian authorities about the handling of Cleghorn's case. The first time was after his nine-hour trial in February 2004 -- in which he was refused a translator, denied the right to call his own witnesses and not allowed to cross-examine prosecution witnesses.
The New Zealand Government became involved again last month after his appeal was dismissed. It was held in secret.
He says Cleghorn's trial and subsequent appeal seemed "primitive and cynical" and breached basic levels of international law.
The Cambodian legal system is a mix of colonial and local traditions and is known for its brevity and summarised proceedings, Professor Dawkins says. If there is an appeal or retrial, recent media coverage will place greater international scrutiny on the case and the court.
It is all a long way
from Petone, where Cleghorn grew up. He attended
During the 1980s
Cleghorn became a real estate agent but left
He worked with heroin addicts in Thai monasteries before helping Cambodian refugees, who had fled civil war and lived in camps on the Thai-Cambodian border.
When United Nations
peacekeeping troops arrived in the region in 1989, Cleghorn set up a bar --
called the Minefield -- in the northern Cambodian town of
When most of them left two years later, Cleghorn and one of his five daughters, Heidi Madeley, opened a company catering for the tourism trade that immediately followed the end of civil hostilities.
Cleghorn quickly became one of the top guides in the region and gained a reputation for taking his clients into areas seldom visited by Westerners.
One former client described Cleghorn, fluent in Khmer, as "having a love of adventure and the ability to fill the evenings with Vietnam War stories".
Mrs Madeley, who now
Through his tour business, he used to take people off the beaten track to poor villages. "As a result some money was coming in to these people and they were able to afford to build basic necessities like water pumps. Now of course that's all stopped."
As his tourism business took off, Cleghorn bought land overlooking the ancient Angkor Wat temple. That land is the reason behind the rape accusations, Ms Madeley says.
Cleghorn maintains Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge Tan Senarong wanted his land and allegedly enlisted his sister, head of the Siem Reap branch of the Cambodian Women's Crisis Centre child protection group, to bribe five teenage girls to press rape charges against him.
Mr Senarong was stripped of his judge's title last year after being singled out by Prime Minister Hun Sen for corruption.
The then financial controller of the women's crisis centre -- and former minister of women's and veterans affairs -- Mu Sochua was also implicated in the corruption sting.
Mrs Madeley says
corruption is so deep-seated in
"We all lived in that country knowing that it is corrupt. My faith in the system isn't shattered because I never had any faith for it in the first place.
"If anything, being in jail has renewed Dad's faith in the Cambodian people."
When her father was being held in the Siem Reap prison soon after his arrest in October 2003, people from his home village would visit him daily taking him food and supplies.
However, early last
year he was transferred to the Prey Sar prison in
Cleghorn's health has deteriorated since then, and visits from the villagers are less frequent.
Swiss national Rudolf
Knuchel, who also owned land in
The group --
established in 1997 -- was after a slice of the millions of dollars of
international aid and funding that was being poured into
A CWCC representative hung up the phone when contacted by The Dominion Post.
Denise Ritchie, founder
of New Zealand-based child rights group Stop Demand, says
"Fifteen years ago
it was places like
Thousands of foreign
men travelled to
Ms Ritchie says Cambodian authorities are beginning to clamp down on child sex offenders and "heaps" of child protection agencies have emerged in the past five years.
Though she agrees Cleghorn deserves a fair go, she says it does not mean he is innocent of the rape charges.
Father, inmate, carer, monk:
Graham Cleghorn and his daughter Heidi Madeley in the grounds of