Supreme Court Kicks Case of Russian Pedophile Back to Appeal Court

Child Rights Groups Stunned by High Court’s Decision

The Supreme Court yesterday ordered the case of Russian pedophile Alexander Trofimov, 42, who is serving a 6-year prison sentence for having sex with a 14-year-old girl in Phnom Penh, back to the Appeal Court to be reconsidered.

The Supreme Court cited a lack of evidence that the victim was a minor, and the court’s decision effectively rejects the Appeal Court’s ruling last August to uphold Mr Trofimov’s original conviction at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in March 2008.

For the time being, Trofimov’s six-year prison sentence still stands.

“The Appeal Court did not issue the correct sentence in this case. The victim’s brother said his sister was 15 or 16 years old, and the victim’s lawyer did not have enough documentation to confirm the victim’s age,” Judge Khim Pon told the court yesterday.

“The Supreme Court decides to send this case back to the Appeal Court to be tried again,” the judge said.

Noun Phanith, the victim’s lawyer, said the court had all the proof it needed in the form of family records that proved Trofimov’s victim was 14.

“The court cannot believe only the victim’s brother when he says his sister was more than 15 years old,” Mr Phanith said.

In weighing the brother’s testimony against the family’s records, Mr Phanith asked, “which one has more power?”

“I think the supreme court’s decision to send this case back to the Appeal Court is a waste of time,” he added. “I hope the victim has justice in the next trial.”

Trofimov was not present in court yesterday. Chea Hey, Trofimov’s lawyer-who was also not present at the court-welcomed the decision.

“I think the Supreme Court acted correctly by the law,” he said. “[The court] did not have enough evidence to convict my client because we did not know exactly how old [the girl] was.”

Trofimov is serving another 11-year prison sentence for sexually abusing 17 underage Cambodian girls in Preah Sihanouk province.

Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court sentenced Trofimov to eight years in prison in November 2008 for abusing three underage girls. The following January, the same court added three more years to his term in a separate case involving 17 other girls. And according to Interpol’s website, Trofimov’s real name is Stanislav Molodyakov, who is wanted in Russia also for sex crimes against children.

Patrick Stayton, field office director for the anti-pedophile NGO International Justice Mission, said he was not only “disappointed” by yesterday’s decision by the Supreme Court, but also confused.

It remained unclear, he said, whether the judges sent the case back because the Appeal Court failed to send them sufficient documentation or because the available evidence was simply too weak.

Either way, Mr Stayton said he felt confident that the Appeal Court would uphold its original verdict once again.

“This is not a case where there is sketchy evidence,” he said.

“We feel confident in the sufficiency of evidence in this case and the Appeal Court has found it sufficient before, and there is nothing that has happened in the meantime that would change that.”




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