RUSSIAN paedophile Alexander Trofimov’s jail sentence has been slashed to eight years after Appeal Court judges decided yesterday to consolidate three child-sex counts into a single charge.
Trofimov, 42, was arrested in Sihanoukville in October 2007 and was sentenced to a total of 17 years in prison on multiple charges of abusing as many as 17 children since the previous year.
Last week he confessed to two of the crimes, apologised to his victims and their families and asked for a third to be dropped during the appeal process.
His defence lawyer, Saing Vannak, asked that the court merge the two remaining charges.
In handing down the reduced sentence yesterday, Appeal Court Judge Seng Sivutha said that all three charges would be consolidated into a single charge of purchasing child prostitution.
“Alexander Trofimov did confess and apologised to his victims for what he did wrong, because he lacked knowledge of Cambodian tradition and laws,” he said.
For me it is hard to accept ... there are many victims he abused, including a deaf girl.
He said Trofimov paid between US$5 and $2,000 to have sex with underage girls in Preah Sihanouk province from 2006 up until his arrest.
Trofimov is also wanted by Russia in connection with child-sex allegations in his native country.
Cambodia’s Court of Appeal in June rejected a request by the Russian government to extradite him.
Saing Vannak largely supported the court’s decision.
“Eight years is the largest sentence for him, because my client had confessed his guilt to Cambodian people and their victims,” he said.
“I agree with the verdict 80 percent and the court’s sentence. But the court did not lift the charge of the case my client wanted dropped.”
He said it was “unlikely” that Trofimov would appeal against the verdict.
However, Nuon Phanith, a lawyer provided to the victims by child-protection organisation Action Pour Les Enfants, described the decision as
He said this was the first time APLE had heard of a verdict so lenient for someone who had abused more than a dozen children.
“We have laws that the court can [consolidate] these cases, so it is the court’s authority to decide,” he said.
“We feel sorry over the decision. For me, it is hard to accept the decision because there are many victims he abused, including a deaf girl.”
APLE Director Samleang Seila said yesterday that the organisation would challenge yesterday’s decision.
Naly Pilorge, director of rights group Licadho, said apologies “should not warrant a reduction of prison sentences for sex offenders”.
She posed the question: “Is the judiciary helping to protect children, or is it assisting sex offenders?”