Graham Cleghorn….victim of injustice in Cambodia?

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Herald Sun
July 10 2007; 12:34

Court rejects tour guide's rape appeal


A New Zealander convicted of rape will stay in a Cambodian jail after a court rejected his appeal today.

Graham Cleghorn, 60, was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted in February 2004 of raping five young women, all of whom had worked at his home in the tourist town of Siem Reap.

The former Angkor temple tour guide, who was not at today's hearing, has repeatedly denied the charges, saying that he was framed by an activist group involved in helping to prosecute sex crime cases.

But presiding judge Thou Mony said the Appeal Court found that “the suspect called the victims into his room to massage him and forced the victims to have sex with him”.

“The court found that Cleghorn is guilty of the rape charges ... so the court upholds the verdict,” he said.

Supporters have repeatedly said the case against Cleghorn is flawed and that he was unfairly caught up in a campaign to rid Cambodia of its reputation as a haven for sex offenders.

Cleghorn, who had lived in Cambodia for 10 years at the time of his arrest, was detained in late 2003 amid a government crackdown on sex crimes.

His trial lasted only nine hours, during which his lawyer did not speak in his defence. His first appeal was thrown out in January 2006 after a hearing that neither Cleghorn nor his lawyer attended.

The decision drew criticism from the New Zealand Government, which sent its ambassador to Thailand to meet Cambodian officials early last year.

A New Zealand diplomat was at today's hearing but refused to comment on the verdict.

But Ouk Ry, one of Cleghorn's lawyers, said the judge did not review critical evidence, and that they would make another appeal. Cleghorn can submit his case to Cambodia's Supreme Court.

Cleghorn's Cambodian wife, found guilty earlier of conspiracy for procuring the young women for her husband and sentenced to three years behind bars, was granted five years probation.