THE Supreme Court on Wednesday transferred the case of a Russian national convicted of having sex with a 14-year-old girl back to the Appeal Court, with judges saying they did not have enough evidence to determine whether the victim was 14 at the time of the crime.
Alexander Trofimov, the former director of the US$300 million Koh Puos development in Preah Sihanouk province, was arrested in Sihanoukville in October 2007 on suspicion that he had sexually abused up to 19 Cambodian girls since 2005. In March 2008, Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Trofimov under Cambodia’s old debauchery law and sentenced him to 13 years in prison – a term that was reduced to six years on appeal.
As he read Wednesday’s decision, Presiding Judge Khim Ponn referred to evidence that the victim was born in February 1991, which would have made her older than 15 at the time of the crime.
Under the Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation, a minor is defined as being younger than 15.
Trofimov, who is being held in Preah Sihanouk provincial prison, did not appear for Wednesday’s hearing.
His lawyer, Chea Hay, said Trofimov was too ill to make the trip. He added that he approved of the Supreme Court’s decision to have the Appeal Court re-investigate the case.