THE Court of Appeal on Tuesday ordered an Italian national convicted of performing indecent acts against six minors to leave the country after suspending a two-year jail term handed down in 2008, a decision that outraged the victims’ lawyer.
Fabio Cencini, 45, was arrested in February 2008 in Sihanoukville and charged with sexually abusing four girls and two boys aged between 8 and 13 years. He was found guilty and originally sentenced to two years in prison, with three months to be served immediately and the remainder to be served pending his appeal.
However, presiding judge Seng Sivutha ruled Tuesday that the remaining 21 months would remain suspended, with Cencini free to go after serving three months in prison from February to May 2008.
“It is a misdemeanour crime, and in the two years since he has been out on bail he has not committed another crime,” he ruled.
The court also ruled that Cencini had to pay a 2 million-riel (US$477) fine and 2 million riels to each victim, and ordered him to leave Cambodia.
Noun Panith, the victims’ lawyer provided by child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, said he would continue to plead with prosecutors to ensure that Cencini serves more jail time.
“We are terribly sorry for the Appeals Court’s decision, which was contrary to the original ruling,” he said. “It was very strange for the Appeal Court to not uphold the entire lower court conviction but suspend the rest of his sentence.”
Cencini, speaking to the court, said he would go home after being set free. “I would like to request court officials to let me go home and visit my elderly parents in my country by providing me my confiscated passport.”
Tith Savuthy, Cencini’s lawyer, said the decision to suspend the rest of the sentence was “acceptable” and helped clarify the original sentence handed down in provincial court.