Graham Cleghorn….victim of injustice in Cambodia?

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KI Media
October 2 2006

Mothers Claim NGO Detained 3 Daughters
by Elizabeth Tomei and Saing Soenthrith, The Cambodia Daily

Three Siem Reap province mothers have filed a complaint against the Cambodian Women's Crisis Center at the provincial court, claiming that the NGO illegally detained three of their daughters in 2003, officials said Sunday.

CWCC Director Chanthol Oung dismissed the claims, saying the NGO rescued the girls from the home of a convicted rapist, and that his supporters have pressured the mothers to complain.

Han Tun, 41, Soeum Sam, 49, and Pel Phean, whose age is not mentioned in the complaint, are seeking $1,500 in compensation. They claim the CWCC denied their children access to a toilet and intermittently locked them in rooms with mosquitoes inside over a period of 15 days, according to the complaint.

Their daughters are among nine women and girls who were found during a police raid of New Zealand national Graham Cleghorn's Siem Reap home in 2003, Chanthol Oung said. They are now aged between 15 and 18.

The mothers say in their complaint their daughters were not victims of Cleghorn.

Cleghorn was convicted in 2004 of raping five women and is currently serving a 20-year sentence. He has claimed that the CWCC framed him.

"This complaint would not happen without some people at the back who are pushing poor people.... We know very well who is behind it," Chanthol Oung said.

She added that a team of foreigners and Cambodians are working on Cleghorn's behalf, but declined to name them.

So Vat chief prosecutor at the court, said the allegations will be thoroughly investigated.

At the June 1 Appeals Court hearing for Bart "Lucky" Lauwaert an Australian convicted of child sex crimes in 2003 following a CWCC probe, nine women and girls who had originally testified against him dropped their testimony.

The females claimed the CWCC had groomed them to lie with offers of $5,000 each. CWCC denied the allegation, claiming a pedophile syndicate had tampered with the witnesses. The court upheld Lauwaert's conviction.