The Appeals Court on Tuesday morning upheld the Siem Reap Provincial Court’s 20-year jail sentence for New Zealander Graham Cleghorn, 60, who was convicted in 2004 on charges of rape and illegal possession of firearms.
Thou Mony, Appeals Court chief council judge, said while reading his verdict that testimony from three of the five rape victims was more than enough to uphold the original verdict.
“According to the victims’ testimonies, they were called [by Cleghorn] for a massage and forced to have sex,” Thou Mony told the courtroom, adding that there was no need to reinvestigate the case. “There is enough evidence for the charges of rape and illegal possession of weapons,” he said.
Cleghorn’s lawyer Ouk Ry said by telephone after the verdict that there was no hard evidence against his client. “There was no evidence, there were only words,” he said of the victims’ testimony. “He didn’t have sex with the women,” he said, adding that Cleghorn, whose appeal hearing had been postponed eight times previously, will appeal his case to the Supreme Court.
The Siem Reap court convicted Cleghorn in 2004 of raping five women whom he employed as housekeepers and for illegally possessing a hand grenade and a pistol.
Tuesday’s hearing was closed to reporters, but during the July 4 hearing of the weapons conviction Cleghorn told the Appeals Court that his weapons were for display purposes only and certified by the Cambodian Mine Action Committee as being free of explosive material.
Heng Ratana, deputy director general for CMAC, said Tuesday that his organization does not offer such certificates to the public.
Grant Trail, a second secretary at the New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok, attended the reading of the verdict, but declined comment.
Cambodian Defenders Project lawyer Nou Navy, who represented several of the victims, said the court made the right decision.
Cleghorn had maintained from his 2004 arrest that he was framed by the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center, who assisted police in initially investigating the case, and repeatedly accused the NGO of bribing the victims to testify against him.
The CWCC denies the allegation.
(Additional reporting by James Welsh.)