The Appeals Court hearing for convicted rapist Graham Cleghorn was delayed for the eighth time Wednesday following a request by the New Zealander’s lawyer to change the judges presiding over the case.
Nou Tepirith, Cleghorn’s attorney, said that he requested the removal of the three-judge Appeals Court panel earlier this month.
He said he made the call because chief Judge Saly Theara re-peatedly delayed the trial and was not issuing summons to both the plaintiffs and the accused.
“[Saly Theara] just delayed the hearings again and again—he didn’t fulfill the legal procedures,” Nou Tepirith said.
Nou Tepirith denied that he was purposely delaying the hearing, and added that Cleghorn would have been unable to attend Wed-nesday’s scheduled hearing because no summons was issued for his appearance.
Mong Kim Heng, director of Prey Sar prison, disputed the lawyer’s claim and said that Cleghorn had obtained a summons for the hearing and had been prepared to attend.
“My prison guards were ready to take him to the Appeals Court, but we were told that the hearing is delayed because of the changing of the judges,” he said.
Nou Navy, a Cambodian Defenders Project lawyer representing some of the New Zealander’s victims, also disputed Nou Te-pirith’s claim that Cleghorn would have been prevented from attending.
Nou Navy said that she had sent a staff member from her NGO to deliver Cleghorn’s hearing summons to Prey Sar prison. “The judge [Saly Theara] was afraid that the [defense] lawyer might have another excuse,” Nou Navy said.
Saly Theara could not be contacted for comment and Appeals Court President Ly Vuoch Leng said he was too busy to speak to a reporter.
Pol Sun, a Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center lawyer also representing some of the victims, called the request to remove the judges a ploy, and alleged that Cleghorn required more time to get the victims to drop their complaints. “Mr Cleghorn has a lot of tricks,” Pol Sun said.
Cleghorn began serving a 20-year prison sentence in 2004 for raping five women he employed as housekeepers. He has maintained his innocence throughout, claiming that the CWCC framed him.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said there is no law prohibiting the Appeals Court from delaying hearings, but he added that Cleghorn’s case has been delayed too many times. “When it is seven or eight times, it is too difficult,” he said.