Graham Cleghorn….victim of injustice in Cambodia?

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NZ Herald
June 14 2006;  13:00

Inquiry into Cambodian centre after rape claims

Australian authorities are to investigate a Cambodian women's group that New Zealander Graham Cleghorn says framed him for rape.

Cleghorn, 59, is two years into a 20-year sentence in Phnom Penh's Prey Sar prison for raping five underage girls in his Siem Reap home.

He says he was framed by a non-government organisation, the Cambodian Women's Crisis Centre, that is seeking a share of millions of dollars in foreign funding being poured into Southeast Asia to stop child prostitution.

Cleghorn maintains his five accusers were offered up to US$10,000 ($16,000) by the CWCC to falsely testify he molested them. The CWCC denies this and has described Cleghorn's claims as "laughable".

The investigation was ordered after Australian teacher Clint Betteridge, who was found guilty of raping Cambodian girls in 2003, was released from a Queensland jail on Friday night.

He fled to Australia before his trial, and was released from jail on the grounds that he would not get a fair trial in Cambodia.

Australian Justice Minister Chris Ellison told the Australian newspaper: "The girls in this case had recanted their allegations... and we could not secure assurances from the Cambodians that Betteridge be allowed a retrial and given an opportunity to offer a defence."

He said he had asked his department to investigate the women's crisis centre to see if it received funding from Australia.

Earlier this year, Cleghorn won the right to a second appeal against his convictions after he successfully argued that he was not represented at the first in January.