Graham Cleghorn….victim of injustice in Cambodia?

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The Dominion Post
March 10 2006

Cambodia considers Cleghorn appeal
Appeal hopes lifted

New Zealander Graham Cleghorn's fight for a new appeal against a 20-year jail term for child rape convictions has received its second boost in as many days.

Bangkok-based New Zealand ambassador Peter Rider met Cambodia's secretary of state for the Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday before meeting Cleghorn in prison early today.

The minister said Cambodian authorities would consider a new hearing, reinforcing comment by Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana that he was almost certain to grant a re-trial for Cleghorn because of the unusual circumstances of the case.

Cleghorn's case has stirred interest in New Zealand after it was revealed that his appeal was thrown out in January without either Cleghorn or the embassy being informed and without legal representation.

Cleghorn said that during his trial he had not been allowed to cross-examine witnesses or have witnesses supporting his defence heard.

Cleghorn, 59, a former hobby farmer and tour guide, was convicted of raping five house girls in February 2004 in the northern town of Siem Reap. He was sentenced to 20 years in jail and ordered to pay $2000 in compensation to each of his victims.

He appealed, claiming he was innocent and had been set up by powerful interests who wanted his land, which is near the world-famous Ankor Wat temple complex.

He also said the girls testified against him on the promise of large payments by the Cambodian Women's Crisis Centre.