Graham Cleghorn….victim of injustice in Cambodia?

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January 31 2007; 20:10

Another Appeal Postponed For Rape Accused



The accuser's cannot afford the trips to the court

NZPA / Ruth Hill



An appeal for convicted New Zealand rapist Graham Cleghorn was postponed in Cambodia for the third time in two months, leaving one of his accusers complaining fruitless journeys to court were draining their money.

Appeal Court officials said that Cleghorn's scheduled hearing in Phnom Penh would not take place because a motion had been filed to dismiss the presiding judges. No information about a subsequent hearing was given.

But Cleghorn's lawyer and officials from the Cambodian Women's Crisis Centre (CWCC), which represents the complainants, both said they knew nothing of the motion.

Cleghorn, 60, a former traffic officer from Wellington, was sentenced in 2004 to 20 years in prison for raping five young women in Siem Reap, 314km northwest of Phnom Penh.

His subsequent appeals process has been marred by two years of allegations, acrimony and repeated delays.

Leam Suy, the mother of one teenage rape complainant, said the delays were draining her family's resources and sowing confusion among the victims and their supporters.

"Even though the delays have happened again and again we will continue to come to the court. We will come until a judge says in front of all of us what's wrong and what's right," she said.

"But I am wondering why the court delayed once again. We've come to the court so many times, we're running out of money."

Cleghorn's lawyer, Nou Tepirith, said: "I haven't received any information from the Appeal Court about the delay or about the date for the next hearing.

"I expect a letter from the Appeal Court explaining the reason of the delay, whether it's because of changing the judges or other reasons."

But CWCC lawyer Pol Sun said: "Maybe the defence lawyers filed a complaint against the judges -- because they don't have confidence in them."

On January 14 the appeal stalled because the court failed to arrange Cleghorn's transport from prison.

Last month the hearing was postponed because the complainants' mothers and CWCC lawyers did not turn up to court, saying they were not given the legally required two weeks' notice.

Cleghorn's first appeal was thrown out last January in a hearing that neither he nor his lawyer attended.