In a closed 20-minute hearing yesterday, the Court of Appeal rejected a request by Russia to extradite convicted Russian pedophile Stanislav Molodyakov to Moscow, where he is wanted on charges of sex crimes against children, court officials said.
Molodyakov, 43, who was arrested in 2007 under the alias Alexander Trofimov, is serving 17 years in prison for sexually abusing 21 underage Cambodian girls.
Arrest warrants have been issued for the 43-year-old in Russia, where a prosecutor general made the extradition request.
Appeal court Prosecutor Hean Rith said by telephone after the hearing that the court ruled that Molodyakov would not be extradited because he had not yet served his 17-year prison term in Cambodia. Mr Rith also said that Molodyakov is still appealing against his multiple Cambodian convictions for child abuse. Molodyakov “has not finished all his trials,” he added.
Following the appeal hearing, which was closed to the public, Molodyakov was escorted without handcuffs from the court wearing casual clothes-not the familiar blue prison uniforms issued to inmates of the Cambodian prison system. Molodyakov did not respond to questions asked by a reporter regarding the charges against him in Russia.
According to the court’s prosecutor, Mr Rith, Molodyakov was not required to wear prison clothes because, as long as his appeals were being processed by the court, he was still considered innocent under the law.
Asked why yesterday’s extradition hearing was closed to the public, Presiding Judge Seng Sivuth said it was because the hearing was conducted by the Investigation Chamber. According to the Criminal Procedure Code, hearings held in the Investigation Chamber are to take place in-camera.
Both Molodyakov’s lawyer and lawyers for his victims supported the appeal court’s decision not to extradite him to Russia.
“I think the decision of the judge is right,” said Molodyakov’s lawyer Saing Vannak. He added that Molodyakov had asked the court to remain in prison in Cambodia.
“He loves Cambodia,” Mr Vannak said.
Lawyer for Molodyakov’s victims Noun Phanith supported the court’s decision for a different reason. He said he was concerned the Russian government might not return Molodyakov to Cambodia to serve his sentence here if he was extradited.
“I did not want the court to send [Mr Molodyakov] to Russia,” he said.
This concern was echoed by Patrick Stayton, field office director for anti-pedophile NGO International Justice Mission, which has been involved in the investigation of Molodyakov.
“The thing I care most about is that [Molodyakov] should serve the full sentence for his crimes here,” he said by telephone yesterday. “I think that if he were to be extradited now, that would be the end of his serving any time for the crimes committed against the Cambodian victims.”
Mr Stayton said Molodyakov’s personal desire to avoid extradition did not change his opinion.
“Maybe he feels that things would be worse for him there [in Russia],” Mr Stayton said. “Even if that were true, I still think he needs to serve the time for the crimes he committed against Cambodian victims here.”
But Mr Stayton said he wanted to be sure Mr Molodyakov serves that time, citing at least one instance in 2009 where the convict was released from Preah Sihanouk Provincial Prison to visit the site of a multimillion dollar beachside investment that he is involved with. At the time of his arrest in 2007, Molodyakov, who went by the name Alexander Trofimov, was the executive director of Koh Puos Investment Group, a firm building a $300 million holiday resort on a Preah Sihanouk island.
Preah Sihanouk Provincial Prison Director Sok Soaphea said yesterday that the defendant was being held at Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison and will be transferred back to the Preah Sihanouk provincial jail.
Officials with the Russian Embassy in Phnom Penh could not be reached for comment yesterday.