The Supreme Court heard the case yesterday of Russian pedophile Alexander Trofimov who appealed against his conviction for sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl in Preah Sihanouk province. Trofimov, who has been absent for at least four of his previous court sessions, was not present at yesterday’s hearing either.
The Supreme Court did not issue a verdict during the morning’s roughly one-hour hearing though Judge Khim Pon said he would announce the court’s decision on Jan 27.
Trofimov is currently serving 17 years in prison for sexually abusing the 14-year-old and multiple other underage Cambodian girls.
Prison officials in Preah Sihanouk city, where Trofimov is serving his lengthy jail sentence, said they did not receive the necessary documents from the Supreme Court alerting them to the hearing.
“I did not know that he had a trial, and I had not seen the letter from the court that he had a hearing today,” provincial prison director Top Sophea claimed by telephone.
Trofimov nonattendance yesterday was only the latest in a line of missed court hearings.
In December, he missed an extradition hearing at the Appeal Court as well as two similar hearings earlier that year. He was also absent for most of his original trial in November 2008.
Trofimov, whose real name is Stanislav Molodyakov, is listed by Interpol as being wanted in Moscow for sex crimes against children there. At the time of his September 2007 arrest in Cambodia, the Russian businessman was executive director of Koh Puos Investment Group, a firm heading up a $300 million holiday resort project on a Preah Sihanouk province island.
While Trofimov was not allowed to leave the jail yesterday to attend the Supreme Court, last year he was allowed by the prison’s director to leave the prison to pay visits to his investment project. Child protection workers lambasted Trofimov’s freedom of movement outside prison, sanctioned by authorities, when it came to light.
During yesterday’s hearing, Trofimov’s defense attorney Chea Hey said judges should overturn his client’s verdict, saying testimony by the victim was inconsistent. He said the victim listed a birthday of Feb 20, 1992, which would make her 15 years old, and not 14, during the time when the sex crimes occurred.
“The court can not depend on the victim’s statement and put the punishment on my client. The court did not have enough evidence to punish my client,” Mr Hey said, and claiming that the young girl’s brother also claimed that his sister’s age was between 16 and 17.
As for why his client was not in attendance, Mr Hey claimed that Trofimov was too ill to attend court.
“It is not a problem since he has lawyers to represent him,” he added.
Peng Maneth, the lawyer representing Trofimov’s victim, rebuffed Mr Hey’s claims. She said the girl’s family book places her date of birth at Dec 20, 1992, which would make her under the age of 15. She also called on the Supreme Court to uphold the guilty verdict.
“Mr Trofimov is not only developing the Koh Puos Island, but also developing child rape,” Ms Maneth added.