Graham Cleghorn….victim of injustice in Cambodia?

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China Post
June 2 2006

Court opens appeal hearings for a convicted pedophile

A Cambodian court on Thursday opened hearings on an Australian man who is appealing his 20-year sentence for having sex with young girls.

Bart Lauwaert appealed the sentence handed down in 2003 by Siem Reap's provincial court, which convicted him of having sex with girls aged 11 to 14. It was not clear how many girls he allegedly abused.

Lauwaert and his Cambodian lawyer Dy Borima declined to comment when they arrived at the Appeals Court in the capital Phnom Penh on Thursday.

Court security officials barred journalists from entering the courtroom to cover the proceedings, but no reason was given. Several of Lauwaert's alleged victims were to appear at the hearing.

Lauwaert was 36 when he was convicted.

Also convicted at the same 2003 hearing was Lauwaert's friend Clinton Rex Betteridge, who was sentenced in absentia by the Siem Reap court to 10 years imprisonment for having sex with underage girls.

Betteridge, who had been released on bail, fled Cambodia to Australia using a replacement passport issued by the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh.

Cambodian authorities confiscated his original passport when they released him on bail about a month before the trial in January 2003.