Pedophile Case Against Russian Stalls Again

sihanoukville – Child protection NGO officials on Monday blasted the Sihanoukville Municipal Court for once again postponing the largest pedophile trial in the country’s history.

Alexander Trofimov, 41, executive director of Koh Puos Invest­ment Group, was supposed to face charges Monday of abusing 11 girls under the age of 15 and seven girls aged between 15 and 17, but his hearing was postponed once again because he still does not have a lawyer, the presiding judge said.

Trofimov was originally set to ap­pear before the court Sept 23, but the trial was delayed after his law­yer quit due to a sore throat. At the time, Judge Taing Sunlay told Trof­i­mov that he must have a lawyer by Monday or the court would appoint him one.

“This postponement shows that the judge has limited abilities,” said Ket Chanto of the international NGO World Vision, which is caring for the victims.

“Generally the victims make [a deal] outside the court of law be­cause of the limitations like these of the judges,” he said. Judges “al­ways use excuses to change the cas­es. Even though we know the ex­cuses are invalid, we can do nothing,” he added.

Taing Sunlay said Monday that his court was unable to hear the case because Trofimov still does­n’t have an attorney. He also claim­ed that he requested a law­yer for Trofimov from the bar a­sociation Oct 7.

“Now there is no lawyer so we cannot have a hearing,” he said.

Taing Sunlay said that he did not know when he would set another trial date.

“I don’t know why the suspect doesn’t hire a lawyer himself, be­cause he has money,” he added.

Peng Maneth, a lawyer with the anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, which is representing the victims, said that Taing Sunlay should have gone ahead with the trial as he said he would Sept 23.

“Neither the suspect nor the judge is being accountable for what they said during the last trial,” she added.

Sihanoukville Municipal Court Director Svay Sisarouth, defended Taing Sunlay’s decision to postpone the trial indefinitely.

“The hearing is for finding justice for everybody, not only the victims,” she said.

An official with anti-pedophile NGO International Justice Mission said on condition of anonymity that the Sihanoukville police and the Interior Ministry are working hard to fight against sexual predators, but the courts still need to do more.

“With exploitation and trafficking, the problem is with the courts,” he said.

Trofimov was sentenced in March by the Phnom Penh Mun­ic­ipal Court to 13 years in prison after being found guilty of debauchery in a separate trial for sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl. On Thursday, the Appeal Court upheld his conviction, but reduced his prison sentence to six years.

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