Envoy Says NZ National’s Hearing Was Unfair

New Zealand’s ambassador to Thai­­land has expressed concern to Cam­­bodian authorities over an Ap­peals Court hearing for jailed New Zea­land national Graham Cleghorn that was held without his presence last month, an embassy official said Mon­day.

Cleghorn was sentenced to 20 years in prison by Siem Reap Prov­incial Court in February 2004 after he was found guilty of raping five wo­­men he employed as maids. He was also found guilty of possessing weapons.

But his Appeals Court hearing in January, at which his conviction was upheld, “denied Mr Cleghorn the opportunity to present a case, which breached his right to a fair hearing,” em­bassy consul Lyndal Walker wrote in an e-mail received on Mon­day.

“The New Zealand Ambassador [Peter Rider]…expressed the Minis­try’s grave concerns about Mr Cleg­horn’s appeal being heard in absentia” during the meeting with a Cam­bo­dian Embassy official on Feb 8, Walker wrote.

“We asked what steps could be taken to rectify the situation,” Walker added.

“The Ambassador pointed out that neither Mr Cleghorn, his law­yer or New Zealand officials had been told the appeal was to be heard.”

Appeals Court Judge Saly The­ara con­firmed that he had upheld the ver­dict at the hearing but denied that the appeal had been held in se­cret.

He said a summons was issued for Cleghorn to attend, but the trial could not be delayed until he was able to attend because the witnesses were poor and had already spent too much money on transportation from the countryside.

“All the victims came, and the lawyer, Nach Try, said he stopped de­fending [Cleghorn],” Saly Theara said.

An unattributed report by Deutsche Presse-Agentur stated the five teenagers who alleged Cleg­horn raped them have signed statements retracting their evidence.

Saly Theara declined to reveal whether the five females retracted their allegations during the hearing.

John Mitchell, deputy head of mis­sion at the British Embassy, which represents New Zealand in Cambodia, said it is embassy policy not to comment on consular cases.

 

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