Suspect Still Not Present on Second Day of Pedophile Trial

The trial of Alexander Trofi­mov, a Russian businessman accused of sexually abusing 17 underage girls, entered into its second day at the Sihanoukville Municipal Court, but according to one of the presiding judges, Trof­imov once again wasn’t brought to court.

Trofimov, who is currently serving a six-year sentence at Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison for sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl, was supposed to appear at the court Tuesday, but, despite a transfer order from the Siha­noukville court, the prison still has not sent him, said Plang Sam­nang, one of the three judges presiding over the case.

Plang Samnang, however, downplayed the fact that a man facing charges in the largest pedophile case in the country’s history missed the first two days of his trial.

He said he did not know why Trofimov had not been brought to the court and refer­red questions to Taing Sunlay, chief of the three- judge pa­nel hearing the case. Taing Sunlay could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Prey Sar Correctional Center 1 Director Mong Kim Heng, who said Tuesday that he had received the court’s transfer order too late to send the Russian to Sihanoukville for the start of the trial on Tuesday, said he did not know whether he would be able to get Trofimov to the court for to­day’s hearing.

“I am not clear, yet,” he said.

Justice Min­ister Ang Vong Vathana said by telephone Wed­nesday that he was not aware that Trofimov had not been brought to the court, but said that it “is not a problem.”

Trofimov “can ask for the retrial and the court will have to re­try,” the minister said.

This week’s trial is the third at­tempt by the Sihanoukville court to try the Russian tycoon.

An official with anti-pedophile NGO International Justice Mis­sion who worked closely with police on Trofimov’s case, said he still had not been given a clear answer as to why Trofimov was not brought to the court. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that he was concerned about what effect having to retry Trofimov would have on the young victims.

“It’s more difficult for them to put their past behind them,” he said.

      (Additional reporting by James Welsh)

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