Graham Cleghorn….victim of injustice in Cambodia?

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The Cambodia Daily
June 9 2006

Lauwaert’s Mother: Justice was impossible in 2002
by Whitney Kvasager

The family and a supporter of Australian Bart “Lucky” Lauwaert, who is serving 20 years in prison on sex offense charges, rallied to his defense Thursday on the eve of today’s expected Appeals Court decision on his conviction.

Lauwaert’s mother, Laura Van den Eynde, wrote in an email that it was impossible for her son to receive a fair trial in 2002, and called for an investigation of the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center which helped convict him.

“Maybe it is time now to ask the Court and Prosecutor of the Appeal Court to fully investigate the involvement of the CWCC and others,”she wrote in an email sent to journalists and foreign diplomats,

Bart’s twin brother, Bavo Lauwaert, accused the CWCC of using his brother to make money.

“CWCC decided to hurt Bart and make a lot of money at the same time,” he wrote in an email, adding that “this could happen to almost anyone.”

He added: I am absolutely furious about how the Australian government did nothing whatsoever to help my brother to get a fair trial.”

The emails came a day after the CWCC and a consortium of local NGOs issued a statement claiming that witnesses in Lauwaert’s June 1 Appeal Court hearing had been tampered with. The NGOs claimed a pedophile syndicate had undermined them.

At the June 1 hearing, nine witnesses in the case dropped allegations that led to Lauwaert’s 2002 conviction for sexually abusing them. The females said the CWCC had groomed them to lie with promises of $5,000 each.

Australian Embassy First Secretary Guy Ruediger declined comment, except to note the embassy provides consular assistance to Lauwaert.

Van den Eynde’s message was disseminated by Siem Reap hotelier Rudolf Knuchel, who was accused of pedophilia following a CWCC investigation and arrested in 2000. After four court appeals, Knuchel was acquitted in 2003 due to a lack of evidence.

Van den Eynde said her family had asked Knuchel to represent and assist them in getting a fair trial for her son.

Ï was acquitted of all charges on the grounds of lack of evidence,”Knuchel said in an email Tuesday. “The CWCC played a major role in this,”he wrote.

The Web site , which opposes absolutist”doctrines on sex abuse and child pornography, has an ongoing campaign in support of Lauwaert.

After his June 1 appeal, the Web site remarked that “the brave Cambodian girls stood firm.”

Knuchel on Thursday also emailed a 2004 Far Eastern Economic Review article, written by Australian journalist Bronwyn Sloan, that questioned CWCC’s methods in investigating alleged pedophiles.

CWCC Executive Director Chanthol Oung said Thursday that it was impossible for the CWCC to turn the witnesses against Lauwaert, as they had already filed a complaint with police in Seam Reap province before the CWCC was involved in the case.

Appeals Court Presiding Judge Saly Theara said he could not reveal what today’s verdict will be.

(Additional reporting by Pin Sisovann)