The Russian Embassy said yesterday that the Cambodian government has failed to respond to a recent extradition request for convicted Russian pedophile Stanislav Molodyakov, following his early release one week ago by royal pardon.
Police officials also said that they have lost track of Molodyakov’s whereabouts despite the fact that he is still considered highly dangerous.
Molodyakov, who is also known as Alexander Trofimov, was released by royal pardon last Tuesday after serving barely four years of an eight-year sentence for sexually abusing more than a dozen underage girls as young as six. In a case marred with irregularities, the court at one point “consolidated” an initial sentence of 17 years down to eight years, and has refused to grant an extradition request.
In an apparent effort to mollify outraged rights groups, police officials initially insisted they would be keeping tabs on Molodyakov—who is also wanted by Interpol for the rape of young girls in Russia.
Russian newspapers have detailed a string of crimes he committed, including the rape of six 9- to 10-year-old girls, who he lured to his mansion with the promise of modeling contracts.
But Preah Sihanouk provincial police chief Tak Vantha said he was unsure whether Molodyakov still remained in the area around Sihanoukville, where prior to his conviction he headed a $300 million island resort project.
“We have lost his track and I can’t really say if he left the province,” said Mr. Vantha. “After he left [prison], since the 20th, I have had people watch him but only in my provincial territory. We saw him driving a white Lexus 470 in the province, and he did not really do anything.”
Russia is still seeking Molodyakov’s whereabouts in order to extradite him. But so far the government has failed to cooperate with the Russian Embassy.
“We have no comments, we still have no answer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said Pavel Seskanov, head of the Russian Embassy’s consular section, adding that he sent a note to the Ministry late last week regarding Molodyakov’s extradition. “We have not received any official information from them.”
Spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Koy Kuong declined to answer questions, saying he had “no information” on Molodyakov. When asked why the Ministry had not responded to the Embassy’s request, Mr. Kuong only said: “I have no information about that.”
In the past, foreign nationals who have served sentences for similar crimes have been deported soon after their release, even in cases where there is no extradition treaty.
Rights groups this week questioned the willingness of the government to ignore Russia’s request.
“It’s common for governments to deport non-citizen felons after they have served their sentence, so it is puzzling what the Cambodian government is up to here,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch.
“Aren’t the authorities worried that this very rich and well-connected person could possibly re-offend, abusing more Cambodian girls, or intimidate the organizations and his previous victims whose testimony landed him in prison in the first place? This story is not going to go away, so top leaders in the Cambodian government need to come clean on this case, and clearly state why Trofimov was released and what the government plans to do with him.”
Samneang Seila, country director of anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, said his group and at least 11 others would be petitioning the government to revoke Molodyakov’s visa, along with those of two other foreign pedophiles who were also granted early releases last week.
“We have already informed Interpol about this. We will suggest the government extradite these three people as they are dangerous to children. We will make sure that these people are watched and protect those vulnerable to them,” said Mr. Seila, adding that an early release could send the wrong message to would-be criminals.
“It encourages pedophiles who have power and money, showing they can be acquitted and have their jail term reduced.”
But while rights groups called on the government to clarify the situation, authorities appear reluctant to do so.
Officials at the provincial prison, the anti-human trafficking department and the Ministry of Justice said they had no information and declined to comment.
Despite Molodyakov’s unknown whereabouts, National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith said that police have the situation under control and will be putting efforts into keeping tabs on him.
“It is a technical job and the police have their methods,” he said.