The Sihanoukville Municipal Court on Thursday found Italian national Fabio Cencini, 43, guilty of sexually abusing four children and sentenced him to two years in prison, court official said.
The court also fined Cencini, who has been free on bail since May, $500 and ordered him to pay $500 compensation to each of his 10- to 14-year-old victims, Judge Kim Eng said.
Cencini filed for appeal, and because he has been freed on bail, he will remain free until his case can be heard by the Appeal Court, Kim Eng said.
“The investigating judge gave him bail, so he gave [Cencini] freedom,” Kim Eng said.
“I could just give him punishment,” the judge said, adding that Cencini’s passport has been confiscated, which means he cannot flee.
Anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants Country Director Samleang Seila welcomed the two-year prison sentence issued by the court, but said that it was unacceptable that Cencini has been allowed to remain free.
“We are worried that he might contact the children during the Appeal Court process” and convince them to change their testimonies, Samleang Seila said.
Justice Ministry Undersecretary of State Ith Rady, who is also vice chairman of the national anti-human trafficking task force, said that the court made the right decision under the law in freeing Cencini.
“If he didn’t appeal, they would have arrest him right away,” Ith Rady added.
Sok Sam Oeun, executive director for the legal aid NGO Cambodian Defenders Project, agreed that the Sihanoukville court’s decision was in accordance with the law.
“Our Constitution says that the accused is considered guilty only if found guilty by all available courts,” he said.