The Appeals Court hearing for convicted rapist Graham Cleghorn was postponed for the sixth time Thursday after the jailed New Zealander failed to appear in court.
Cleghorn’s lawyer Nou Tepirith told Judge Saly Theara that his client was not present because the court had not issued a summons to Prey Sar prison for the prisoner to be delivered to court.
Saly Theara told Cleghorn’s lawyer: “I told you to keep in touch with the Appeals Court regularly.”
He added that the New Zealand-er’s accusers “came to get the summons themselves,” referring to the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Cen-ter lawyers representing Cleg-horn’s victims.
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.
Saly Theara said he would issue a new summons for Cleghorn and send it to his lawyer.
“This time I will issue the summons through Mr Nou Tepirith,” he said, adding that he had no desire to postpone the case, and rescheduled the hearing for Jan 31.
Cleghorn’s Dec 7 hearing was delayed when his victims didn’t show up. Saly Theara said then that the summons was lost in the mail.
Oung Chanthol, CWCC director, said by telephone that the delays are benefiting Cleghorn.
“It creates the chance to negotiate and threaten the victims,” she said. Contacted after the hearing, Nou Tepirith denied that any at-tempts have been made to threaten or bribe witnesses.
Nou Thepirith said Cleghorn had told him that he would go on hunger strike soon if he couldn’t get his day in court.
Sok Sam Oeun, Cambodia Defenders Project executive director, said the court is to blame if a prisoner doesn’t make it to a hearing.
“It is the duty of the court to bring the prisoner to court,” he said.
(Additional reporting by John Maloy)