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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Seven women accused in debauchery case

Seven women accused in debauchery case

Seven Cambodian women in Sihanoukville have been accused of trafficking young girls

for sex in relation to the debauchery case involving Russian businessman Alexander

Trofimov.

Three of the Cambodian women have been arrested and there are warrants out for the

arrest of the other four, according to anti-trafficking police.

Since his October 16 arrest, 19 girls have come forward with official complaints

against Trofimov, making it the biggest debauchery case in Cambodian history.

But Samleang Seila, director of child advocacy group Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE),

said one of the original 19 victims dropped charges due to the involvement of her

parents. He said the parents were not among the accused.

APLE will represent the remaining 18 girls in court. Although they now range in age

from 10-18, Seila said at the time, at least 17 of the girls were under 15, the legal

age of sexual consent in Cambodia. The age of one of the girls at the time of the

crime is yet to be determined.

Seila said that even though four of the girls are now over 15, charges of debauchery

can be filed in the cases because "the law is concerned only with their age

at the time of the crime."

Seila said he did not expect more victims to come forward even though there may have

been more girls trafficked. So far none of the victims have been called in for questioning

by the court although the court has called in the police from the trafficking department.

APLE officials are trying to make the case proceed faster, Seila said.

Chor Heng, Interior Ministry Anti-Trafficking Deputy Police Chief, said three of

the seven accused women have been arrested and charged with "trafficking"

and "conspiring to commit debauchery."

Nhangh Sa Mith, 30, Tith Srey Mom, 52, Cangh Soyin, 50, admitted their involvement

in the crimes to the police, he said.

Mith, whose 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old niece are among the 19 victims,

admitted to selling seven different girls to Trofimov, but she denied involvement

in her daughter's case, Heng said.

Soyin admitted to selling her niece as well as some of the other victims to Trofimov,

Heng said.

Heng said that Srey Mom admitted her involvement in the initial case, which involved

one Phnom Penh girl. This is the only case to be tried by Phnom Penh Municipal Court;

the rest will be in Sihanoukville Court. The woman also confessed during questioning

to trying to make three more deals with Trofimov, but she said he did not like the

girls so the deals did not proceed.

Heng said the other four accused women are still at large. He identified one of them

as 18-year-old So Sina who is also one of the victims who filed a complaint against

Trofimov. Police believe at some point she began procuring girls for him.

Thirteen victims, most of them under 15 years old, are currently in the care of World

Hope International, according to Heng. The others are under the supervision of their

own parents.

Meanwhile, Timur Zevakhin, Chief of the Consular Department for the Russian Embassy,

said Trofimov was in good health and being held under acceptable conditions at Prey

Sar Prison. The Russian Embassy had no further comment on the case.

Zevakhin said Trofimov's Koh Puos Investment group that last year announced a $300

million plan to develop Snake Island off the coast of Sihanoukville was not registered

with the Russian Consul so he has no official information regarding the business

activities. However he said he thought Trofimov was replaced as company director.

Bith Kim Hong, Interior Ministry Anti-Trafficking Police Chief, said he hoped the

case would proceed swiftly.

"This is a very serious case. Criminals must be punished as soon and as heavily

as possible according to their crimes," he said.

Meas Sopheak, Sihanoukville Court prosecutor, said the court is investigating the

cases and is preparing the documents needed to file charges.

He declined further comment.

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