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Pedophile Case Opens Against Beach Tycoon

Phnom Penh Municipal Court said Tuesday it will rule Friday on whether Russian business tycoon Alexander Trofimov is guilty of debauchery, as one of Cambodia's widest-sweeping pedophile trials opened.

Trofimov, 41, denied one charge of debauchery in Phnom Penh court, where he is accused of paying for sexual acts with a 14-year-old girl. He faces similar accusations from a number of other alleged victims in Sihanoukville, where he was leading the $300-million development of Snake Island, off the southwest coast.

Trofimov said in a public hearing that lasted six hours that he was innocent of the debauchery charge, and he denied knowing the alleged victim or paying for sexual acts with her.

The girl told the court that Trofimov had four sexual encounters with her at his house in Sihanoukville.

Prosecutor Sok Kalyan said at the close of the hearing Trofimov was guilty and should pay $200,000 in compensation for the girl.

Trofimov's lawyer, Ouch Sophal, called for a re-investigation of the case, saying the evidence was not clear.

Cambodia's anti-trafficking law provides for 10 to 20 years in prison for debauchery charges.