Graham Cleghorn….victim of injustice in Cambodia?

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Sunday Star Times
February 19 2006

Cambodian jail 'will kill Kiwi inmate'
by Helen Bain

A New Zealand man imprisoned on rape charges in Cambodia even though the teenage complainants retracted their evidence will probably die in jail unless action is taken to free him, his lawyer says.

Graham Cleghorn, a former aid worker who lived in Petone before leaving New Zealand, was convicted and sentenced to 20-30 years jail in February 2004, but all five teenage complainants have since made written statements that the rapes did not happen. But Cleghorn remains behind bars in Pnomh Penh's Prey Sar prison.

His Wellington lawyer, Greg King, said conditions in the prison were horrendous and prisoners did not receive enough food to survive, so were largely dependent on family and friends to bring food.

Friends from Cleghorn's village had been "hugely loyal" and frequently brought him food, but as prison authorities kept moving him around, his friends often did not know where to bring food. He had lost half his body weight since being jailed.

Cleghorn had also become seriously ill while in prison and it had been difficult to get a doctor in to treat him, King said.

He said there was potential for 10 years to be added to Cleghorn's 20-year sentence if he did not pay each complainant $US2000 ($3000).

If Cleghorn, now 55, served the full 30 years, he would be 83 by the time he was due for release, and it was unlikely he would live that long, King said.

"In conditions like that, it would be a miracle if he survives."

King said he was trying to have the appeal process re-opened through diplomatic channels, and was considering taking the case to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

He said he had not been able to speak directly with his client, and instead relied on the British High Commission to relay email messages to Cleghorn.

King said witnesses in Cleghorn's trial were bribed to testify against him. One woman stood up during the trial and asked "where is my money?" because she had been promised $US10,000 if her daughter testified.

Cleghorn was not allowed to cross-examine prosecution witnesses, call his own witnesses or have an interpreter, and his appeal was conducted without his knowledge and without opportunity to submit the retractions.

Cleghorn has two adult daughters, one living in New Zealand and the other in Australia, but neither wanted to talk about their father. He also has a Cambodian wife and a six-year-old child.

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said he would find out more about Cleghorn's case before commenting.