July 4 2007
Cambodian court to issue verdict on rape case appeal by New Zealander next
PENH, Cambodia (AP): A New Zealander convicted
of raping five Cambodian girls appealed the ruling Wednesday, and the judge
will announce his verdict next week, a defense attorney said.
Graham Cleghorn, 60, pleaded his
innocence at a closed-door session in the Appeals Court, seeking to overturn a
20-year prison sentence handed down against him by a provincial court in
2004, defense attorney Nou Tep Thearith said.
The presiding judge, Thou Muny,
said the court's decision to uphold or overturn that ruling will be announced
next Tuesday, Nou Tep Thearith said.
He said more evidence was
presented to the court that would prove his client's innocence, but he
declined to elaborate.
"I think the trial was fair.
The judge gave me plenty of chances to speak,'' Cleghorn said outside the
courtroom after the hearing. "The judges asked good questions of the
complainants, so I think it was fair.''
He said he didn't know which way
the verdict would go but that the court has heard enough evidence to conclude
he is innocent.
Cleghorn, from Wellington,
was sentenced to 20 years in jail in 2004 for raping five girls at his home
in Siem Reap province, 230 kilometers (143 miles) northwest of the capital, Phnom Penh. The girls'
ages have not been disclosed.
He 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
The girls worked as maids at
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