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Sihanouk court hears more cases against Russian paedophile

Sihanouk court hears more cases against Russian paedophile

One case against twice-convicted paedophile being reheard while another court case's verdict set to be delivered for first time.

A PREAH Sihanouk provincial court has announced it will deliver rulings today in two retrial cases against Russian businessman Alexander Trofimov.

Trofimov's defence lawyer, Saing Vannak, told the Post that the court heard closing statements from both sides Monday.  

Chan Chamroeun, an official from local rights group Adhoc who has followed the case, said the defendant as well as most of the alleged victims and witnesses were present during the hearing.

The 41-year-old former chairman of Koh Puos Investment Group was arrested in 2007 and was handed a 13-year sentence in his first trial in March last year for charges involving a 13-year-old girl - a term that was reduced to seven years by an appeals court last October.

But Trofimov's lawyers demanded a retrial, arguing that the failure of authorities to deliver the defendant to the court during proceedings comprised the trial's legitimacy.

After three failed attempts to get the businessman and an attorney into court last year,  the Sihanoukville provincial court on November 27 sentenced Trofimov to eight years imprisonment on one of two counts of purchasing sex from a minor, brought by a single victim.

Two Cambodian women, Tit Srey Mom and So Sina, were also each given eight-year prison terms.

The second count at the trial involved 17 victims but was suspended pending investigation.

The March 2007 verdict is being reheard and a verdict on the second count from the November 2008 trial is being delivered for the first time.

The verdict was rejected by Trofimov's lawyers, saying he was absent during the trial and demanded a retrial.

 The presiding judges on the cases, Taing Sunlay and Kim Eng, could not be reached for comment Monday.

After years of being seen as a haven for sexual predators, Cambodia in 2003 began a campaign to clean up its image by targeting paedophiles and other sex offenders, arresting dozens of foreigners. 

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