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Trofimov to remain in Cambodia

Children’s rights advocates, lawyers praise court’s ruling against extradition of Russian paedophile

THE Court of Appeal has rejected a Russian request for the extradition of thrice-convicted paedophile Alexander Trofimov, who is allegedly wanted on child sex charges in his native Russia. Judge Seng Sivatha handed down the ruling – which drew applause from both defence lawyers and child-protection advocates – during a short closed-door session on Thursday.

“This is what my client wants because he still has problems in Cambodia,” Saing Vannak, Trofimov’s defence attorney, told reporters after the hearing.

He also rejected allegations that Trofimov had abused children in Russia. “There is no evidence that Trofimov has committed any offences in Russia,” he said.

Trofimov, 41, the former director of the Koh Puos Investment Group, which is constructing a US$300 million resort project in Preah Sihanouk province, was arrested in Sihanoukville in October 2007 on suspicion he had sexually abused up to 19 Cambodian girls since 2005.

In March 2008, Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted him under Cambodia’s old debauchery law and sentenced him to 13 years in prison – a term that was later reduced to six years on appeal. He is facing another 11 years in prison in connection with two other child sex charges.

Strange bedfellows
Nuon Phanith, a lawyer from child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants who attended the hearing, said afterwards that the case had created an unusual accord between Trofimov’s lawyers and anti-paedophile activists.

“Both sides’ lawyers do not want him to be put on trial in Russia. We have the same objectives,” he said.

Following the decision of the appeal court not to extradite Trofimov, he added, the Russian national will be forced to serve out his sentences in Cambodia.

“If Trofimov was extradited, would justice be served for the 19 children who were abused in Cambodia? No,” he said. He also noted that Trofimov’s three cases were still all at different stages of appeal and thus had yet to fully conclude.

However, Nuon Phanith denied arguments that Trofimov had not been convicted of child sex in Russia, saying that the man’s real name, Stanislav Molodyakov, appeared on a Moscow wanted list in 2008.

Ouk Savuth, general prosecutor at the appeal court, said this was the third time that the court had tried to rule on the extradition request after two failed attempts in 2009.

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