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Cambodia: Russian paedophile granted Royal Pardon

Publish Date: 23 Dec 2011
Source: Radio Free Asia
By: Samean Yun

Alexander Trofimov coming out of Court in 2010. Photo / Reuters.
Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni. Photo: AFP / Getty Images.
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen. Photo: AP / Heng Sinith.

Pedophile Pardoned On Government Request

Anti-human trafficking groups criticize Cambodia for amnesty decision.


Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's government asked the country's King Norodom Sihamoni to pardon a Russian businessman convicted of sexually abusing more than a dozen girls in Cambodia, according to a prince.

Prince Sisowath Thomico told RFA in an interview Friday that the king granted an amnesty to Alexander Trofimov, who was freed on Tuesday, based on a government request.

Trofimov, who became the focus of Cambodia's largest-ever pedophilia case, had been convicted of buying sex from 17 girls between the ages of six and 13.

Anti-human trafficking groups have expressed dismay over his release, saying it would be a bad example for criminals.

“I don’t want to respond to [the] anti-human trafficking groups' comment and thought but I can comment based on the laws. The King has granted amnesty because the government has asked the King to prepare a royal decree to pardon [Alexander Trofimov]," Thomico said.

"The King can make his own decision without consulting with the government and other institutions but in the case of Alexander Trofimov, the King granted the amnesty upon the government’s request,” he said.

Thomico added that the government request was made to the King through the council of ministers.

“The ministry of justice must have requested through the council of ministers,” said Thomico, who is also the spokesman for retired King Norodom Sihanouk.

He declined to comment when asked whether the King knew that Trofimov was a sex offender.

Before his arrest in October 2007, Trofimov was chairman of a Russian-led investment group developing a Cambodian tourist island.

Investor

Trofimov led Koh Pos Investment Company, which in 2006 received permission to build a U.S. $300 million resort on Koh Pos, known also as Snake Island, off Sihanoukville in southern Cambodia.

Trofimov was originally sentenced to 17 years in jail, but his term was slashed to seven years in August 2010.

Trofimov was one of the higher profile cases in recent years in Cambodia's efforts to crack down on pedophiles.

Anti-pedophile non-governmental group Action Pour Les Enfants (Apple) country director Samleang Seila told RFA that even though Trofimov's release was "legal," it will set a bad example in Cambodia.
 
“We are very sad. We felt that a person who committed a serious crime against children received a very light punishment. Our reaction is the release is a weak message showing that serious offenders receive a light punishment. This punishment is not enough for what he did,” he said.  

Trofimov was one of more than 300 inmates held in prisons across Cambodia who were either released or had their sentences reduced after receiving a royal pardon.

Apologize

Trofimov admitted to sexually abusing 16 of the girls and apologized to his victims and the Cambodian people during a hearing last year.

He is also wanted by Russia in connection with child sex allegations in his native country, but Cambodia's Court of Appeal has rejected a request by the Russian government to extradite him, Agence France-Presse reported.

Dozens of foreigners have been jailed for child sex crimes or deported to face trial in their home countries since Cambodia launched an anti-pedophilia push in 2003 in a bid to shake off its reputation as a haven for sex predators.

Reported by Samean Yun for RFA's Khmer service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.  


Copyright © 2011 Radio Free Asia
Article


Update

 

Chaos blurs hunt for pedo

Publish Date: 03 Jan 2012
Source: Phnom Penh Post
By: Vincent Macisaac, Vong Sokheng and May Titthara
 


Convicted pedophile Alexander Trofimov (right) poses with a young unidentified girl in this undated photograph.  Photo supplied / Phnom Penh Post.

Serial pedophile Alexander Trofimov’s whereabouts remain a matter of speculation or denial, with provincial police in Preah Sihanouk saying they lost track of him the day after Christmas, national police saying they are not even looking for him, border police requesting photographs and government spokesmen either saying they know nothing or offering hunches.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak told the Post yesterday that he did not know whether the recently released Russian national – who is wanted in his home country for alleged sex crimes against six girls aged nine and 10 – was still in Cambodia or had left for another country.  

“I am not sure about Trofimov’s whereabouts. He may be in the country or out of the country. We have searched for Trofimov’s name [on records at immigration checkpoints], but it has not shown up,” he said.

The man also known as Stanislav Molodyakov on Interpol’s list of wanted criminals in Russia might have changed his name again and left the country, Khieu Sopheak said, adding that this was personal speculation. Other government spokesmen said they were completely in the dark as to Trofimov’s whereabouts, and had not been briefed on how to respond to questions from reporters.

Preah Sihanouk police chief Tak Vanntha said his officers had not seen the former chairman of Koh Pous (Snake Island) Investment Group since December 26, but added that they were still trying to locate him.

“We are afraid that he will cross to Vietnam, so we checked with police at two border checkpoints, Bavet and Tieng Yang,” Tak Vanntha said. “We did not receive any reply [from the border police] yet,” he said at about 5pm yesterday.

Tak Vanntha appeared to be unaware that the interior ministry had already checked. The ministry has also requested recent photographs of Trofimov to forward to police officials at border checkpoints, indicating neither of his two names were on lists of those departing the country, sources said.

National Police Chief General Pin Piseth referred questions to the force’s spokesman Kirth Chantharith, who said police were not even looking for Trofimov.

“I don’t know Trofimov’s whereabouts,” he said. “Trofimov is free to stay in Cambodia, and he has no obligation to inform the police. If his visa is valid, he is free to stay,” he added.

Meanwhile, investigators with child-protection NGOs continue to monitor a villa in Sihanoukville where they suspect Trofimov has been living since Saturday, following reports last week that he had been residing in a separate villa near a primary school behind Sokha beach. The new villa is located near a guesthouse where German pedophile Alexander Wartin has been residing since his release from the same prison as Trofimov on December 20.

Both men were released from Preah Sihanouk provincial prison after receiving royal pardons on December 20. Three days later, Dutch pedophile Rene Paul Martin Aubel was freed from Prey Sar prison, where he had been serving a 10-year sentence for sex crimes against six boys in 2005.

Aubel, who also received a royal pardon, remains in Phnom Penh, but he changed guesthouses over the weekend, according to investigators who are monitoring him around the clock.

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, described the pedophile pardons as “symbolic of many problems in Cambodia”, including the lack of a functioning judiciary and a culture of impunity.

“This case shows the chaos that results from [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s attempt to concentrate power in his office,” he said, pointing to a “leadership vacuum” that had undermined chains of command within ministries and governmental agencies.

“You can’t outsource pedophiles,” Ou Virak said. “Whether Trofimov is raping children in Cambodia, Thailand or Vietnam, the [Cambodian] government is to blame.”

He said Trofimov was likely still here.

“Who else would want him? He has a lot of money and a protective ring around him in Sihanoukville. Money goes further in Cambodia. You can buy freedom [here],” he explained.

Samleang Seila, director of Action Pour les Enfants, said APLE and other child protection NGOs would seek further information from the interior ministry today about Trofimov, after submitting a petition to the ministry on Friday calling for his deportation.
 

Copyright © 2012 The Phnom Penh Post
Article
 


Stop Demand's response:

This Royal Pardon of Trofimov (and his fellow paedophiles) is an utter travesty and deserving of widespread international condemnation.

Shame on King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen, Hun Sen's government, Cambodia's Council of Ministers, and Cambodia's Court of Appeal.  

With such men/decision-makers leading the country, it is no surprise that Cambodia ranks as one of the world's leading countries for child sex tourism, for sex trafficking of women and children, and for high numbers of foreign and local paedophiles.  See earlier articles here, here, and here.