Graham Cleghorn.victim of injustice in Cambodia?

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NZ Herald
March 6 2006; 13:00

Cleghorn's Cambodia home 'filled with girls'

Convicted New Zealand rapist Graham Cleghorn filled his home with young girls, says the Cambodian group accused of bribing teenagers to falsely testify against him.

Cleghorn, 58, is serving 20 years in Phnom Penh's Prey Sar prison for raping five teenage girls in what his lawyer Greg King calls a farcical trial.

Cleghorn maintains his innocence, saying he was set up by the Cambodian Women's Crisis Centre.

The centre hit back today with claims in The Dominion Post newspaper that the former Petone man and his wife, Buot Touer, found poor village girls to live with them as house servants.

It said some of the 10 servants were made to massage Cleghorn at night and five testified that he raped them.

Cleghorn claimed a corrupt judge persuaded his sister, head of the centre, to offer teenage girls US$10,000 ($15,227) to press rape charges against him.

He said they were girls he had fired for sneaking out at night.

But in emails the centre claimed the complaints were genuine and said the centre stood against "a tidal wave of sexual abuse of children and of abuse of women and children in general."

It said the complaints, some as young as 11, were among 10 girls who lived with Cleghorn.

"Why did he need 10 domestic helpers (when) one or two are enough for serving him and his (wife)?", the centre said.

It said Cleghorn's wife regularly took the girls to clinics for injections to prevent pregnancy.

Touer was given a three-year suspended sentence for conspiracy, after the pair were found guilty in February 2004.

Meanwhile, Cleghorn has told the newspaper he has lost more than 10kg in jail, has chest pain and all his teeth have rotted since beginning his sentence.

He shares a cell with about two dozen other men and sleeps on a cement floor.

"All I am asking for is two things: a fair trial where my witnesses can be heard and for the New Zealand Government to request an independent investigation into the Cambodian Women's Crisis Centre which brought the charges against me and took my life away," he told the newspaper.

While the prison staff were "good and fair", the food was inedible and there were outbreaks of diseas es from scabies to malaria, he said.

If he was guilty he would deserve the conditions, but he was not, he said.

"If my government cannot get me a fair hearing, I will not spend the rest of my life here in this jail. I would want to die, and I would do that job myself. Wouldn't you?"

The New Zealand Government has raised concerns at the way Cleghorn's trial, which took just nine hours, was handled.

An appeal was later held without Cleghorn's knowledge.

Foreign Affairs officials have met with Cambodian officials to express New Zealand concerns.