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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Second pedo set free in Sihanoukville

Second pedo set free in Sihanoukville

A second pedophille walked free from Preah Sihanouk Provincial Prison on Tuesday after receiving a royal pardon, its director said yesterday.

German national Alexander Watrin – who had been serving a seven-year sentence for sex crimes against four boys under the age of 15 – was freed on the same day as Russian pedophille Alexander Trofimov, prison director Pich Veasna said yesterday.

“He served nearly six years of his seven years sentence, so he also walked free from prison like Trofimov,” Pich Veasna told the Post. He said he did not know where either had gone and declined to comment when asked what effect their early release would have on their victims.

Both pedophilles had targeted children from impoverished families living in and around the coastal resort of Sihanoukville. Combined, they were convicted of sex crimes against 21 children, though child protection officers who investigated both men said it was likely the number of victims was higher.

Trofimov had been visited in prison by two girls who had accused him of sex crimes but later dropped the charges, said Seila Samleang, country director of NGO Action Pour Les Enfants. One was 12 and the other 13 at the time they filed police complaints against Trofimov, he said. APLE and about 10 other NGOs have contacted the interior ministry to ask that the two men be deported and are seeking to have them charged in their own countries. They have also contacted Interpol, as Trofimov faces numerous allegations of raping girls as young as 9 in Russia.

“Our first concern is that he may approach his former victims,” Seila Samleang said, adding that they were also concerned Trofimov and Watrin would seek new victims.

Opposition MP and social activist Mu Sochua said she felt sickened when she heard of Trofimov’s release.

“I was sick to my stomach. I felt totally, totally exhausted. We have a moral obligation to protect our children from such characters. We have a moral obligation to expel [the pair],” she said.

“For all of those working for social justice, this hurts our morale, but it does not alter our conscience. It is not too late for Cambodia,” she said, reiterating that the government had a “moral obligation” to deport the two convicted pedophilles. “Otherwise, they are saying money can buy anything here, even our children.”

Watrin had been sentenced to 10 years in prison in October 2006, but the Court of Appeal reduced this by three years in 2009. Sochua pointed to the reduced sentences both men had received as dangerous signals. “The groups that protect children do such a great job, and there are so many police officers who work so hard to help, but the courts are corrupt. Freedom can be bought,” she said.

Trofimov had been convicted of sex crimes against 17 underage girls while he was chairman of Koh Pous (Snake Island) Investment Company.

Interior ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said he could not comment because Trofimov had received a Royal Pardon, then hung up the phone.



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