Convicted pedophile Alexander Trofimov (r) with a young girl in Sihanoukville.
Nororious pedophile Alexander Trofimov – who has moved freely throughout Cambodia since receiving a royal pardon in December – is back in custody and on the path to deportation, police said yesterday.
But rights groups are wondering what exactly took so long.
Trofimov, a Russian national also known as Stanislav Molodyakov, was picked up by provincial and national police on Monday in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu commune on the basis of a Ministry of Interior arrest and deportation order issued in March, National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith said.
“We have been trying to arrest him for months. As of now, he’s in detention at the Department of Immigration. We must deport him soon following the order from the [Interior] minister. But we are now discussing about the deportation,” he said, declining to elaborate on where Trofimov might be headed.
The convicted pedophile’s December pardon came after serving just half of his eight-year sentence. He had been convicted of sexually abusing 17 Cambodian girls between 2005 and 2007, and is wanted by Interpol for raping six girls in Russia.
Samleang Seila, director of Action Pour Les Enfants, one of 14 international and national NGOs that petitioned the government to deport Trofimov following his release, said the news of the arrest was welcome, but overdue.
The fact that Trofimov had been left to his own devices for the past five months had been a “mistake” he said, pointing to the fact that the Russian had been found at the house of a 12-year-old girl whom he had allegedly abused.
“This sends a message that there should be an amendment to the law… to make it mandatory for any child sex convict to be deported from the country,” he said, adding that the government needs to honour an extradition request previously made by the Russian government.
Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, echoed the call for Trofimov to be extradited to Russia, but said further questions remained about how Trofimov had eluded the authorities for so long.
“The Cambodian government cannot just wash its hands by deporting Trofimov and calling the case closed – there also needs to be a serious and impartial investigation about how these events came to pass,” he said.
Meanwhile, Som Sotharat, 43, father of the allegedly abused girl and owner of the house at which Trofimov was arrested, gave an account contrary to that of police and rights group investigators, denying the Russian had touched his daughter and saying he had been “careful that [his] daughter stay away”.
But more than 200 kilometres away in Sihanoukville, the father of one of Trofimov’s former victims, Meas Him, 35, said he had been saddened to hear of his release from prison and said action had to be taken upon his re-arrest.
“I support the government to expel him from our country. I don’t want to hear our children are abused anymore."
To contact the reporters on this story: Cassandra Yeap and Chhay Channyda at firstname.lastname@example.org