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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lack of lawyer delays Russian sex offender's trial for second time

Lack of lawyer delays Russian sex offender's trial for second time

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Alexander Trofimov covers his face as he leaves Sihanoukville court in this file photo.

Sihanoukville Municipal Court Judge Taing Sunlay says court has no lawyer to represent Trofimov, while the Cambodian Bar Association says its lawyers are reserved for the poor

THE second trial of convicted sex offender Alexander Trofimov, set to begin today, has been postponed for a second time, Sihanoukville Municipal Court judge Taing Sunlay told the Post Sunday.

Taing Sunlay said the prosecution of the 41-year-old Russian businessman could not proceed because the Cambodian Bar Association (CBA) has not yet been able to provide him with a defense lawyer.
"We have no specific schedule for the trial yet," Taing Sunlay said. "We are waiting for a lawyer from the CBA.

Trofimov, the focus of Cambodia's largest-ever paedophile prosecution, was arrested in 2007 in Sihanoukville and convicted in March 2008 of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl.

He was sentenced to 13 years behind bars, but had his prison term slashed by seven years last Thursday in accordance with a new anti-trafficking law that was passed earlier this year and changed how certain sex crimes were classified.

In August, an appeals court reduced the sentence of convicted Belgian paedophile Philippe Dessart from 18 years to three years when his conviction for sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy was downgraded under the new legislation.
Critics of the revised law have warned that this could further encourage sexual predators.

"We are not satisfied with the reduction of sentences under the new law," said Samleang Seila, director of the anti-paedophile NGO Action Pour les Enfants (APLE). "It will allow perpetrators to commit further acts of abuse."

I HAVE LAWYERS IN SIHANOUKVILLE BUT THEY CANNOT DEFEND [TROFIMOV].

But Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defender's Project, said the new law is more specific and comprehensive.
"There has to be clear separation among different types of sex crimes," Sok Sam Oeun said. "The old law combined everything together, and that is not right."

Trofimov's second trial, which was slated for September 23, was postponed after his previous lawyer said he could no longer defend the accused.

Taing Sunlay said Trofimov, who is being held in a Sihanoukville prison, stands accused of sexually abusing 18 other Cambodian girls.

CBA President Ky Tech told the Post his organisation only provides legal representation for those who cannot afford a lawyer and that Trofimov's wealth ran counter to the principles set by CBA donors.

"I received a request from the [Sihanoukville] court, but my lawyers serve the poor, not the rich," Ky Tech said.
"I have lawyers in Sihanoukville but they cannot defend [Trofimov]."

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