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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Chaos blurs hunt for pedo

Chaos blurs hunt for pedo

120103_02
Convicted pedophile Alexander Trofimov (right) poses with a young unidentified girl in this undated photograph.

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.

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