Graham Cleghorn….victim of injustice in Cambodia?

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The Southland Times
March 6 2006

Accusers of jailed Kiwi hit back
by Keri Welham

The Cambodian group accused of bribing teenage girls to falsely testify against convicted Kiwi rapist Graham Cleghorn has broken its silence with claims he filled his home with girls as young as 11.

Cleghorn, 58, formerly of Petone, is serving a 20-year jail term in a Phnom Penh prison for the rape of five teenage girls. He maintains he is innocent and is the victim of a scam run by the Cambodian Women's Crisis Centre.

It has hit back with claims Cleghorn and his wife procured young girls from poor villagers to live with them as house servants. The CWCC said some of the 10 servants were then made to massage Cleghorn at night and five testified that he raped them.

The New Zealand Government raised concerns about the handling of Cleghorn's 2004 trial, which lasted just nine hours. An appeal was conducted and dismissed without his knowledge in January. Foreign Affairs Ministry officials have held meetings with Cambodian authorities in an effort to bring about another appeal.

Cleghorn claimed he owned valuable land adjacent to the ancient Angkor Wat ruins and a corrupt judge who wanted the land convinced his sister, head of CWCC, to offer teenage girls US$10,000 to press rape charges against Cleghorn.

His daughter, Heidi Madeley, said CWCC's allegations were "outlandish" .However, CWCC emailed detailed explanations of its position to a New Zealander who was advocating a fair appeal for Cleghorn. The CWCC claimed the rape complainants were among a group of 10 girls, some as young as 11, who lived with Cleghorn.

It said it had questioned staff at two private clinics who said Cleghorn's girlfriend had regularly brought the girls in for injections that prevented pregnancy.

Cleghorn's daughter, Heidi Madeley, claimed she had visited the complainants' village and four of them had wanted to retract their evidence. The young girls lived with Cleghorn as employees of his shrimp farm. Many families were counting on an alleged $10,000 bribe from CWCC to buy their way out of poverty.

Cleghorn and his wife, Buot Toeur, were arrested in October 2003 and found guilty in February 2004. Toeur was given a three-year suspended sentence for conspiracy.