Charges Fade When Man Claims Confusion

An Italian citizen accused of sex with a minor was released from custody Thursday after telling police that his unfamiliarity with Cambodia and poor eyesight led to his finding himself in a room with a naked 10-year-old girl, police said.

Marco Mazzi, 40, was arrested last week when Svay Pak district police raided a brothel after receiving a tip-off.

Judicial Police Chief Heang Pov said he released Mazzi on Thursday before being charged, due to a lack of compelling evidence and a convincing interview with the suspect.

“It is not fair to keep the Italian man in jail because the police could not find hard evidence to prove that he is the suspect, so right now police keep investigating to see if he is involved,” Heang Pov said.

Heang Pov said that according to his interview with Mazzi, the suspect had only been in Cambo­dia for a short time so when he asked a motodop to take him to a massage parlor, he was unaware he was being taken to a brothel.

Mazzi wears glasses, and after he had disrobed in preparation for his massage, including taking his glasses off, he could not clearly see the naked 10-year-old girl who had entered the room.

Heang Pov suggested that the brothel owner was trying to ex­tort money from Mazzi by photo­graphing him and calling po­lice.

Mazzi was let go, “based on the answers from suspect and the fact that the brothel owner—who keeps the underage girls—was not arrested. It is unacceptable to implicate one person and ignore the other” Heang Pov said.

The girl was sent to the NGO Afesip, where she remains. Pierre Legros, technical consultant to Afesip, said Friday that two people who said they were the girls’ parents, a commune chief and two bodyguards came to the shelter asking for the girl.

“They said they had found her family and wanted to take her back. I said no,” Legros said.

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