Cambodia pardons Russian in underage sex cases

21st December 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Russian businessman, who became the focus of Cambodia's largest-ever paedophilia case after buying sex from 17 girls, has been freed from jail with a royal pardon, an official said Wednesday.

Alexander Trofimov was arrested in 2007 after six girls aged between six and 13 accused him of sexual abuse, and more young girls later filed complaints against the property developer. One of his victims was deaf.

He was convicted in three separate cases and handed 17 years in jail, but the Court of Appeal last year reduced his sentence to eight years in light of his confessions, apparent remorse and lack of understanding of local laws.

"He was released yesterday (Tuesday) evening after receiving a royal pardon," Pich Veasna, prison director in Cambodia's popular seaside town Sihanoukville, told AFP by telephone.

Trofimov was one of more than 300 inmates held in prisons across Cambodia who were either released or had their sentences reduced after receiving a pardon from King Norodom Sihamoni, the prison director added.

Trofimov admitted to sexually abusing 16 of the girls and apologised to his victims and the Cambodian people during a hearing last year.

He is also wanted by Russia in connection with child sex allegations in his native country, but Cambodia's Court of Appeal has rejected a request by the Russian government to extradite him.

Trofimov is chairman of Koh Pos Investment Company, which in 2006 received permission to build a 300-million-dollar resort on Koh Pos, known also as Snake Island, off Sihanoukville in southern Cambodia.

Dozens of foreigners have been jailed for child sex crimes or deported to face trial in their home countries since Cambodia launched an anti-paedophilia push in 2003 in a bid to shake off its reputation as a haven for sex predators.

© 2011 AFP

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