There is some follow-up news to the last blog here, from 1 January 2012, on Royal pardons. I had quoted a report saying that Foreign Minister Hor Namhong had stated on 29 December 2011: “There is the law and only prisoners who have served two thirds of their jail term can get a royal pardon from the King.”
But contrary to this law, a Russian citizen was set free, a man with enormous financial resources, who had been convicted for sexual abuses affecting young girls from the age of 6 to 16, more girls than in any other court case in Cambodia so far.
There was quite some press coverage, also in Khmer language publications. Here follow some selected quotes from The Phnom Penh Post of 3 January 2012:
- Provincial police in Preah Sihanouk: Lost track of him the day after Christmas.
- Border police: Requesting photographs.
The Phnom Penh Post helps out with this problem:
Convicted pedophile Alexander Trofimov (right) poses with a young unidentified girl in this undated photograph.
- Government spokesmen know nothing or offer vague ideas.
- Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak: He did not know whether the recently released Russian national – who is wanted in his home country for alleged sex crimes against six girls aged nine and 10 – was still in Cambodia or had left for another country. He might have changed his name again and left the country.
- National Police Chief General Pin Piseth: Referred questions to the force’s spokesman Kirth Chantharith, who said police were not even looking for Trofimov. “Trofimov is free to stay in Cambodia, and he has no obligation to inform the police. If his visa is valid, he is free to stay.”
- [And all this related to a person who should not have been pardoned and released – according to the statement by Minister Hor Namhong, quoted above.]
- Ou Virak, the Head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights was quoted to have aid that this is not just one irregularity. The called pedophile pardons as being “symbolic of many problems in Cambodia,” including the lack of a functioning judiciary in the context of a culture of impunity.
What is needed, therefore, is clearer, better law enforcement? Several voices had been reported to ask for an investigation and public disclosure of the procedures that led to the release of Trofimov/Molodyakov after spending only less than half of his four years sentence in prison – while high ranking persons like the Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong stressed that a pardon is legally possible only after two thirds of the prison term has been fulfilled – a position also confirmed by Liv Mauv, the deputy head of the Ministry of Interior’s Department of Prisons – and the same Ministry declared that his name had not been on the list of 642 people for whom a pardon was requested from the King.
Is it correct to assume that the Prosecutor General of Cambodia is now searching how this breach of law could happen, and who is responsible for it, so that justice is upheld?
So law enforcement will bring justice.
But during these days, we observe a serious of violent events in Phnom Penh – all the result of claimed law enforcement.
In 2003, the Pheapimex company had reached an agreement with the authorities to develop an area in Borei Keila for its own business interest, promising to build 10 buildings for 1,776 families to be displaced. But Pheapimex constructed only 8 buildings. The chairwoman of Pheapimex, Suy Sophan, is now quoted to say that “the offer of 10 buildings was just an estimate” and that the company “could only afford to build eight buildings” – about 300 families were left out. Some agreed later to be relocated, but others remained in the places they used to live, negotiating for more compensation or better alternatives.
On 3 January 2012, their poor housing was destroyed, under the protection and actions of law enforcement personnel, though it was reported that no representatives of Phnom Penh City, nor of the Pheapimex company were present at the site during the violent clashes during the eviction.
The Prampi Makara District Governor Som Sovann had been quoted as saying that “the squatting families were being removed from the area for aesthetic reasons” to create a clean city. For the evicted people, this meant to be trucked to places 30 or 45 kilometers away, where there is no electricity and no potable water, no schools and no medical facilities.
Further scenes of how law enforcement was enacted can be seen on two brief videos here, in English (1 min. 25 sec.):
For further reflection on this video, I looked up what Wikipedia, the free Internet encyclopedia, says about justice – and I found this:
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity,
along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics;
justice is the act of being just and/or fair.