Two days after his release from prison, internationally wanted pedophile Stanislav Molodyakov remains in the country, the Russian Embassy and rights groups said yesterday, despite a pending extradition request.
Meanwhile, criticism from rights groups, observers and the US Embassy mounted over Molodyakov’s shortened sentence.
Pavel Seskanov, head of the Consular Section at the Russian Embassy, said he had still not heard from the government concerning an extradition request that was made years ago.
“We have no new information on this case,” he said.
Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said he was unsure about the status of the request and referred questions to the Ministry of Justice, which declined to comment.
All the while, a man who is wanted by Interpol for sexually abusing young girls in Russia remains in Cambodia.
US Embassy officials issued a rare comment on a case involving a foreign national, calling the country’s apparent refusal to extradite Molodyakov a “threat” to Cambodia’s reputation.
“In recent years, Cambodia has worked hard to combat child sex tourism and human trafficking, and has increasingly convinced the international community that it is a credible, committed partner in the global effort to eliminate such crimes and punish their perpetrators,” public affairs officer Sean McIntosh said by email.
“The early release of a notorious, serial, convicted pedophile and apparent refusal to facilitate his home country’s efforts to prosecute him threaten to damage that hard-won credibility.”
Arrested in October 2007, Molodyakov was quietly released Tuesday by royal decree. Though he spent barely four years of what was originally a 17-year prison sentence, Molodyakov’s case was marred with irregularities.
A wealthy tycoon who headed an investment worth $300 million with Koh Puos Investment Group in an elite Sihanoukville beach resort, Molodyakov on multiple occasions was permitted to leave prison to check on his investment.
In June 2009, a Justice Ministry official was arrested for taking a $250,000 bribe to falsify an extradition request, which included a forgery of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s signature, to secure Molodyakov’s release.
Even his multiple trials, one of which was delayed three times after his lawyer quit because of an apparent sore throat, drew ire from rights groups who felt the hearings had been stacked in his favor.
The hearings were circus-like at times: at one of his three trials, his lawyers presented a health certificate testifying to the suspect’s impotence after he allegedly failed a “touch test,” conducted by the Phnom Penh health department, by not becoming erect after female doctors handled his penis for 30 minutes.
In 2010, the Court of Appeal “consolidated” Molodyakov’s sentences to a mere eight years. Judges at the time cited a public apology Molodyakov had made to the victims following his convictions as a reason for shrinking the sentence.
In addition to having been found guilty in Cambodia of having paid between $5 and $1,000 for the service of child prostitutes, and committing indecent acts on 15 underage girls, Molodyakov is wanted in Russia for the rape of six 9 to 10-year-old girls. His case is believed to have been the biggest pedophile case ever seen in Cambodia.
Government officials this week have appeared unable or unwilling to talk about Molodyakov’s early release.
Though Molodyakov was released because of a pair of Royal Decrees, the palace said they had no information and referred questions to the Council of Ministers. Spokesman Phay Siphan said he had “no idea” about the case and referred questions to the Ministry of Justice. Sam Pracheameanith, cabinet chief for Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana, declined to comment, as did his deputy Bunyai Narin.
Preah Sihanouk provincial prosecutor Buo Bun Hang said he could not speak about the royal decree but noted that officials are obliged to release whomever is listed.
“When a royal decree arrives anytime, we must release [the inmates] on time,” he said.
Tak Vantha, provincial police chief, confirmed that Molodyakov had been released by royal decree but did not speculate why he was on the list.
“However, in every case where people are released from prison, our police always keep watch on them because we are afraid those people might commit their crimes again,” Mr. Vantha said, adding that he did not know the whereabouts of Molodyakov.
Director general of the general department of prisons, Kuy Bunsorn, and his deputy Lieu Mauv both declined to comment on Molodyakov’s release.
Others wondered why Molodyakov- who was listed on two royal decrees this year, which permitted a release earlier than even a two-thirds good-behavior parole would have -was tapped for such a special honor.
“I think that this foreign defendant is luckier than others,” said Cheap Sotheary, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc. Ms. Sotheary speculated that the release might have been related to Molodyakov’s financial weight.
Regardless of the reasons for the early release, many were unhesitating in their criticism.
“[I] am sick to my stomach when I heard news on radio,” SRP lawmaker and former head of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Mu Sochua, wrote via text message yesterday. “He should be expelled from Cambodia.”