Cambodian court jails Russian for eight years for child sex

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A Cambodian appeals court on Thursday ordered a Russian businessman to serve a reduced prison sentence of eight years for buying sex from 17 under-age girls, including a deaf victim.

Alexander Trofimov was arrested in 2007 after six girls aged between six and 13 accused him of sexual abuse.

Since then, many more young girls have filed complaints against the property developer, making him the focus of Cambodia's largest-ever paedophilia case.

The court found that Trofimov paid up to 2,000 dollars a time to have sex with virgins.

He had been convicted in three separate cases and handed a total of 17 years in prison.

But in light of Trofimov's confessions, remorse, and lack of understanding of Cambodian customs and laws, he deserved a reduction of the sentence, said judge Seng Sivutha of the Court of Appeal.

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

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

A lawyer for the victims said the judgement was regrettable.

"The verdict is surprising. The public will have difficulties accepting this ruling," Nuon Phanith told reporters, adding that he would discuss with the victims whether to launch a further appeal.

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.

His lawyer, Saing Vannak, welcomed the court decision and said his client might not appeal.

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.

© 2010 AFP

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