Convicted offender sentenced to additional 11 years on child sex
charges, but observers say punishment is too lenient in light of crime.
Alexander Trofimov shown here in a file photo received an additional 11 years.
PREAH Sihanouk provincial court has added 11 years to the prison sentence of twice-convicted paedophile Alexander Trofimov after handing down guilty verdicts on one retrial case and one new case against the Russian businessman Tuesday.
Saing Vannak, Trofimov's defence lawyer, told the Post that the court found his client guilty on counts of purchasing sex with a minor - which carries a penalty of eight years - and for indecent acts with a further 17 underage girls, which added an extra three years Trofimov's term.
"I could not accept it. I will file an appeal against the court's decision. Based on the law my client should be free," he said after the hearing, which was in session for most of Tuesday. "There are no grounds to punish my client."
The 41-year-old former chairman of the Koh Puos Investment Group, who was arrested in 2007, previously stood trial in March 2008 at Phnom Penh Municipal Court and was sentenced to 13 years on paedophilia-related charges, but his prison term was slashed to seven years by the Appeal Court in October.
On November 27, Sihanouk ville provincial court again sentenced Trofimov to eight years imprisonment in a case involving sex with a young girl, but the verdict was rejected by Trofimov who claimed he was absent during the trial and demanded a retrial.
Samleang Seila, director of anti-paedophile NGO Action Pours Les Enfants, expressed his disappointment with the court's decision, saying the sentence was considerably light given the number of offences committed by Trofimov.
"It is unbelievable that the court has punished the largest-ever paedophile in Cambodia so lightly," he said. "There is no balance between the punishment and the acts of the perpetrator."
After years of being seen as a haven for sexual predators, the government began a campaign to clean up the Kingdom's image in 2003, arresting paedophiles and other sex offenders including dozens of foreigners.
Bith Kimhong, director of the Ministry of Interior's Department of Anti-human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection, said that Preah Sihanouk provincial court should have punished Trofimov with at least 10 years in prison for puchasing sex with a minor.
"From my point of view the punishment of Trofimov was a little bit light," he said.
Bith Kimhong said his department had arrested eight foreigners for underage sex-related offences in 2008.