The Sihanoukville Municipal Court on Thursday found Russian businessman Alexander Trofimov guilty in one of the 17 child sex abuse cases against him and sentenced him to eight years in prison, Judge Kim Eng said.
However, lawyers for the accused and the victim, as well as Kim Eng, said the conviction, in which Trofimov was found guilty of sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl, will most likely not stand because Trofimov was not present in the court for the first two days of his trial.
Defense lawyer Saing Vannak had told the court that his client was innocent during Tuesday’s hearing on the grounds that Trofimov had been impotent for the past eight years, and therefore incapable of sexually abusing the girl. As evidence, the lawyer presented a certificate from the Phnom Penh municipal health department verifying the Russian’s claim of impotence, Kim Eng said by telephone.
Phnom Penh Health Director Veng Thai confirmed Thursday that he had conducted an erectile dysfunction test on the 42-year-old Trofimov on Nov 24.
“We had two female doctors touch his penis for 30 minutes,” Veng Thai said by telephone. “If the penis is normal, it would usually go up. If it is impotent, it would not go up.”
Veng Thai maintained that the touch test proved that Trofimov was impotent.
Kim Eng said Thursday that he and the other two presiding judges decided that the Phnom Penh health department certificate was unreliable and would not allow it as evidence.
The test “was done too quickly. We didn’t trust it,” Kim Eng said.
Regardless of the court’s guilty verdict, Kim Eng said that because Trofimov was absent from the first two days of the three-day trial, he will be allowed a retrial if he requests one.
“He has the right to [a retrial] because we tried him in absentia,” he said.
Cambodian nationals Tith Sreymom, 52, and So Sina, 22, who is still at large, were also found guilty Thursday of procuring the 13-year-old girl for Trofimov and were sentenced to eight years in prison each, Kim Eng said.
He added that after handing down the guilty verdicts, the court announced that the trials of the remaining 16 victims were postponed to an undetermined date because Trofimov requested a new translator and for medical tests to be conducted on seven of the girls.
Contacted Thursday, Saing Vannak insisted on his client’s innocence and said that although the possibility of a retrial has not yet been discussed, he would most likely request one for Trofimov.
Anti-pedophile NGO Protection of Juvenile Justice attorney Cheat Sokha, who represented the 13-year-old in court, said that the trial could have gone better.
“My client has received justice, but it was not like we wanted,” she said, adding that she is concerned about the very real prospect of putting her client through a retrial.
“Everything will have to be done again—that’s what the law requires,” he said. “Going back and forth is tiring—she is a child.”
Trofimov was already found guilty by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in March of sexually abusing another 13-year-old girl and is currently serving a six-year sentence at Prey Sar prison.
Cheat Sokha said that the eight-year prison sentence issued by the Sihanoukville court would run concurrently with the Phnom Penh court sentence.