Phnom Penh Court Hears Defamation Case Against N Zealand Rapist

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday tried convicted pedophile Graham Cleghorn on charges of defamation and disinformation, which were filed against him by the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center following his repeated accusations that the NGO framed him.

The 62-year-old New Zealander is serving a 20-year prison sentence for raping five girls between the ages of 14 and 19 whom he employed as housekeepers, as well as for the illegal possession of firearms. Following his 2004 arrest and subsequent imprisonment, he maintained that CWCC, who assisted the police in the initial investigtion of the case, had bribed the victims with $10,000 each to testify against him.

Ket Noeun, CWCC’s manager, said that the NGO decided to file the complaint after seeing Mr Cleghorn’s allegations in many different media outlets in 2006.

“About 10 newspapers, some radio broadcasts and some websites printed Mr Cleghorn’s statement,” she said. Ms Noeun said that Mr Cleghorn’s accusations were unfounded and CWCC was seeking $5,000 in damages.

“I request the court to punish him following the law, because he defamed CWCC’s reputation,” she said, adding that CWCC also wanted Mr Cleghorn to print or broadcast corrections in all the outlets to which he gave interviews.

Representing himself during the hearing, Mr Cleghorn denied having met with reporters during his incarceration.

“I never met with reporters during my detention in Prey Sar,” he said. “Maybe the reporters are lying. What evidence does [CWCC] have?”

But speaking before the hearing, Mr Cleghorn repeated his accusations about the CWCC.

“[CWCC] asked the girls ‘Do you want money from a foreigner?'” he said. “They set the whole thing up…. This country needs an NGO to look after the NGOs.”

Mey Usaphea, CWCC’s lawyer, said that the court should punish Mr Cleghorn appropriately.

“According to evidence, the suspect really committed the crime,” she said.

Deputy prosecutor Meas Chanpiseth said that Mr Cleghorn had no evidence to prove he was innocent.

“Please, the judge should punish him,” he added.

Presiding Judge Din Sivuthy said the verdict would be announced on November 26.

  (Additional reporting by Lucy Jordan)


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