Three alleged victims of Graham Cleghorn, the 59-year-old New Zealander contesting his 20-year rape conviction by Siem Reap Provincial Court, said Sunday that they stood by their accusations against him.
Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana announced on Friday that the appeal for Cleghorn—who claims the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center used the women to frame him—would be reheard as it was held in January without his presence.
Contacted in Siem Reap on a telephone number supplied by the CWCC, which is providing them legal assistance, three of five women Cleghorn was convicted in 2004 of raping described his alleged frequent attacks. They said the rapes took place two years prior to his sentencing.
“I was taken to work as a housekeeper to clean his home and wash clothes. He raped me several times while I was there,” said Lim Pich, 20, who said she was 16 when she went to work for Cleghorn.
“He threatened to fire me if I dared to shout for help.”
An unattributed report by Deutsche Presse-Agentur stated last month that the five women had signed statements retracting their evidence, though the three said on Sunday that this was not the case.
“All of the victims were tricked into giving him massages, but we were raped instead,” Lim Pich said.
Rem Sina, 21, and Luot Penh, 19, described similar alleged attacks.
“I have been repeatedly raped,” Rem Sina said, adding that she was told she would be fired if she screamed.
Luot Penh said she was also raped repeatedly by Cleghorn before her aunt took her home after information circulated that females were being harassed at his house.
“His retrial will be a good chance for me and other victims to reveal his crimes,” she said.
CWCC Executive Director Oung Chanthol claimed the two other women were busy working Sunday, and declined to provide their contact information.
The case has been mired in rumors of corruption, Oung Chanthol said, including allegations that the CWCC invented the story and bribed the women to testify against Cleghorn. She called the rumor a “stupid accusation.”
The three women also denied that CWCC had paid them to give false evidence, and accused Cleghorn’s lawyer and family of pressuring them to drop the case.
“I’ve never received even one riel to testify against Cleghorn,” said Rem Sina.
Lim Pich made a similar statement. “CWCC never orders me to do or say anything,” she said.
Cleghorn’s lawyer, Dy Borima, said he had not pressured the women to drop their case.
He declined to comment on whether any of the women had retracted their statements.
But he added that he felt optimistic about his client’s appeal.
“I am always sure in my mind and strongly hope to win. My client will be free,” he said.
“I don’t care what those girls have said because those girls are not court officials,” he said, adding that the judge will find justice for his client.