Graham Cleghorn….victim of injustice in Cambodia?

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The Dominion Post
March 8 2006

NZ envoy to visit Cleghorn in jail
by Keri Welham

New Zealand's ambassador in Thailand will arrive in Cambodia today to visit jailed Kiwi Graham Cleghorn and raise his treatment on rape charges with local officials.

Cleghorn, 58, is serving a 20-year jail term after being convicted of raping girls but insists he was set up by corrupt officials.

The ambassador, Peter Rider, and British officials based in Cambodia acting on New Zealand's behalf, have visited Cleghorn a total of 12 times since he was arrested in 2003.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry said Mr Rider would arrive in Cambodia today and would spend two days meeting Cleghorn, his lawyer, and Cambodian Justice Ministry officials.

Cleghorn says the Cambodian Women's Crisis Centre bribed girls with promises of US$10,000 each to testify against him.

The centre's executive director, Oung Chan Thol, said she would welcome any officials or police who might want to investigate her organisation for evidence of corruption. "We fight corruption. Why would we do it ourselves? If our staff committed bribery we would take them to court."

Mrs Oung said it was Cleghorn who had tried to bribe the girls to withdraw their complaints. If he did not like Cambodian jails he should not have committed crimes, she said.

Wellington lawyer Greg King, acting for Cleghorn's daughters, said the women's crisis centre was a "desperate organisation" with little credibility and he was not surprised by its "outrageous" allegations. "All we are asking for is due process. We don't want a trial by media. We want a trial by law – that is what he has to date been denied."

Mrs Oung said she supported a fresh appeal for Cleghorn on the grounds it had not been fair or just to hear his appeal without his knowledge or presence.

Mr Rider wrote to the president of the Cambodian Court of Appeal in October last year requesting advance notice of Cleghorn's appeal date. He was never notified and his appeal failed.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry said the New Zealand embassy in Bangkok had also written to Cambodian officials lobbying for medical attention for Cleghorn