Graham Cleghorn….victim of injustice in Cambodia?

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Sin Chew Daily, Malaysia
July 10 2007

Cambodia: Court Upholds Rape Conviction Against New Zealander
by Sopheng Cheang/ AP


PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA: A Cambodian appeals court on Tuesday (July 10th) upheld a guilty verdict against a New Zealand man convicted of raping five Cambodian girls who worked as maids at his house.

Prosecutors had provided enough evidence to prove that Graham Cleghorn, 60, had sexually abused the girls, said Thou Muny, the head of the three-judge Cambodian Appeals Court.

Cleghorn was not present Tuesday (July 10th) at the court in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, but his defense attorney, Ouk Ry, called the verdict unfair and said his client would appeal to the Supreme Court.

As the process was in accordance with Cambodian law and proper judicial process, New Zealand accepted the outcome, said Grant Traill, second secretary with the New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok, who was in Phnom Penh to follow the case, told reporters.

The verdict handed down Tuesday (July 10th) was for an appeal case heard last Wednesday (July 4th) in a close-door session in which Cleghorn pleaded his innocence and sought to overturn a 20-year prison sentence handed down against him by a provincial court in 2004.

Cleghorn, from Wellington, was sentenced for raping five girls at his home in Siem Reap province, 230 kilometers (140 miles) northwest of the capital, Phnom Penh. The girls' ages have not been disclosed.

Cleghorn moved to Cambodia in the late 1980s and worked in Siem Reap as a tourist guide. His Cambodian wife, Bout Toeur, was convicted of conspiring to collude in the rapes. She received a three-year suspended sentence.

The girls worked as maids at Cleghorn's house.

Cleghorn maintained in an earlier statement that he was framed by the Cambodian Women Crisis Center, a nonprofit group, which has provided shelters and legal counseling to the girls.