Graham Cleghorn….victim of injustice in Cambodia?

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The Dominion Post
July 11 2007

Fears for Kiwi's life after rape appeal rejected
by Lane Nichols

A New Zealander serving 20 years in a Cambodian jail for the rape of five girls has been handed a "death sentence" by three judges who have thrown out his second appeal, his lawyer says.

Graham Cleghorn was not present for the decision, announced yesterday during a five-minute hearing.

His daughter, Heidi Madeley, said she was devastated. "I can't believe it. I am still gathering a full rundown of the events. Just trying to keep it together."

Cleghorn's legal team are vowing to appeal the 20-year sentence to Cambodia's Supreme Court.

Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry says it cannot intervene in the judicial processes of another country if the appeal process was in accordance with Cambodian law.

Lawyer Greg King labelled the verdict a "death sentence". Cleghorn would not survive two decades in Phnom Penh's notorious Prey Sar prison.

"This is a gross miscarriage of justice. It's another door closed. He's 60 years old. He will die in that prison cell unless he gets out of there."

Mr King planned to contact the New Zealand Government about providing assistance through diplomatic channels and money for the next appeal.

Cleghorn, formerly of Wellington, was jailed after being convicted in 2004 of raping the women, all of whom worked at his Siem Reap home.

The former Angkor temple tour guide has always maintained his innocence, saying he was framed by the Cambodian Women's Crisis Centre, which provided shelter and legal counsel for the girls.

His trial lasted just nine hours. His lawyer did not speak in his defence.

An appeal last year was thrown out after a hearing that neither Cleghorn nor his defence team attended -- drawing criticism from the New Zealand Government.

Australia's Herald Sun reported yesterday that presiding judge Thou Mony said the Appeal Court found "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."

Cleghorn's Cambodian lawyer, Ouk Ry, planned to break the news to Cleghorn last night.

"We want to get the written judgment. We feel the judges made the decision too early without taking into account all other evidence and witnesses they did not call."

Mr King had hoped the court would order a reinvestigation of Cleghorn's case, though Cleghorn would have been required to pay investigation costs of up to $15,000.

"We just feel totally inadequate. Our hands are tied. We're at the mercy of this system."

Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry spokeswoman Helen Tunnah said a consular representative from New Zealand's Bangkok embassy attended yesterday's hearing and had visited Cleghorn in jail.

The Government would offer consular support during Cleghorn's sentence, "as is the case for all New Zealand citizens imprisoned overseas".

But questions about further legal redress were directed to Cleghorn's legal team.