Graham Cleghorn….victim of injustice in Cambodia?

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The Nelson Mail
January 5 2007

Kiwi's delayed appeal angers supporters

Supporters of a jailed New Zealander serving 20 years in a maximum security Cambodian prison are outraged local justice officials failed to bring him to court, again forcing the cancellation of his appeal.

Graham Cleghorn, 60, formally of Wellington, was jailed in 2004 for raping five women, but maintains he was framed by corrupt officials who want his land.

Cleghorn was to have an appeal against his conviction heard in a Phnom Penh courtroom yesterday, but the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh failed to arrange his transport from Prey Sar prison.

Cleghorn's Australian-based daughter, Heidi Madeley, said she was shaking with anger after hearing that her father's fourth attempt to have an appeal had been hamstrung by an ``incompetent'' Cambodian legal system.

``They are obviously waiting or hoping my dad will die in there. I am so devastated, and Dad is getting more and more down.''

Ms Madeley said she was concerned for her father's wellbeing.

``Dad's not in a good way. It seems they just want Dad to drop dead so he'll go away once and for all.''

A Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry spokeswoman said the New Zealand Government would write to Cambodian officials for an explanation as to why Cleghorn wasn't delivered to court, and clarification over processes surrounding prison transfer.

A New Zealand diplomatic official was present at the scheduled hearing yesterday.

Cleghorn's appeal will now be heard on January 31.

Last month, Cleghorn appeared in the same Phnom Penh courtroom but was sent back to his maximum-security prison cell after none of his accusers, their lawyer or Siem Reap members of the Cambodian Woman's Crisis Centre showed up for the appeal.

Last February, Cleghorn's original appeal hearing was held in secret and dismissed, prompting New Zealand diplomats to step in and seek assurances of a fair hearing.

Cleghorn says he was framed by the non-profit group, which has provided shelter and legal counselling to the five girls he was convicted of raping. The girls used to work as maids at Cleghorn's house in Siem Reap province, where he had worked as a tourist guide.

He alleged that the crisis centre had offered to pay US$10,000 (NZ$14,000) to the girls to say that he had raped them.