July 10 2007
Cambodian court upholds rape conviction against New Zealander
A Cambodian appeals court on Tuesday upheld a guilty verdict against a New Zealand
man convicted of raping five Cambodian girls who worked as maids at his
Prosecutors had provided enough
evidence to prove that Graham Cleghorn, 60, had sexually abused the girls,
said Thou Muny, the head of the three-judge Cambodian Appeals Court.
Cleghorn was not present Tuesday
at the court in the Cambodian capital, Phnom
Penh, but his defense attorney, Ouk Ry, called the
verdict unfair and said his client would appeal to the Supreme Court.
As the process was in accordance
with Cambodian law and proper judicial process, New
Zealand accepted the outcome, said Grant Traill, second
secretary with the New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok,
who was in Phnom Penh
to follow the case, told reporters.
The verdict handed down Tuesday
was for an appeal case heard last Wednesday in a close-door session in which
Cleghorn pleaded his innocence and sought to overturn a 20-year prison
sentence handed down against him by a provincial court in 2004.
Cleghorn, from Wellington, was sentenced for raping five girls at his
home in Siem Reap province, 230 kilometers (140 miles) northwest of the
capital, Phnom Penh.
The girls' ages have not been disclosed.
Cleghorn 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 suspended sentence.
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