04/08/2014, 00.00
PHILIPPINES - ITALY
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Italian diplomat arrested in the Philippines for 'child trafficking' faces life in prison

Italy's Foreign Ministry has already suspended Daniel Bosio, 46, from his duties as Italian ambassador to Turkmenistan. During a holiday in the Philippines, he was arrested in the company of three children. A complaint by a local NGO proves crucial in the affair. Speaking to AsiaNews, sources talk about a "murky" case in which the Italian official showed poor judgment. Now he is waiting for the investigation to take its course.

Manila (AsiaNews) - The "murky" case shows the "superficiality" with which some Westerners often approach other cultures. Whatever legal turn the ongoing police investigation takes, the actions by Italy's ambassador to Turkmenistan towards three children during a holiday in the Philippines show at least a great lack of judgment.

For anonymous Catholic sources in Manila who spoke to AsiaNews, the case of Daniele Bosio, the 46-year old Italian diplomat currently in custody for breaking the Asian country's child protection law, is still open.

"Perhaps he did nothing wrong, and it is up to the investigation to uncover the facts and confirm the allegations," a source said, "but people must always be careful in their actions and manners."

Daniel Bosio is jailed in Binan, 39 km from Manila, on charges of human trafficking (involving children) in violation of Article 6 of the Philippines 1992 Child Protection Act, which punishes child abuse, exploitation and discrimination.

If he is found guilty, the diplomat could get a life sentence. However, it might take months and a long trial before a sentence is passed.

The Italian ambassador to the Philippines has already met the diplomat in his cell, and will provide him the Italian government's full legal assistance, but Rome will not try to limit or interfere with the investigation.

Under Filipino law, which is meant to prevent paedophilia and the sexual abuse of minors, any adult seen in the company of an unrelated child in public whose is than ten years or more his senior, must be reported to the police. Which is what two activists from the Bahay Tuluyan Foundation, a Filipino anti-child abuse and anti-child pornography NGO, did.

Filipino Justice Secretary Leyla de Lima added her weight to the investigation, confirming the testimony given by Catherine Scerri and Lily Fiordelis, the two Bahay Tuluyan activists who alerted police about the ambassador after seeing him engage in suspicious behaviour with three children aged nine, 10 and 12 years old at a water park in Bynian.

Early reports indicate that the diplomat had brought the minors to his accommodation in Manila and then to the resort and that he had been involved in other situations before his arrest.

The ambassador told police that he had asked for and received the parents' permission to take the children to a water park. However, according to the NGO that reported him, his statements are contradictory and that his case is a "clear" case of abuse or attempted abuse of minors.

One of the children reportedly said that the man "had a shower with them" and that "they were naked."

The ambassador allegedly bought them food, sandals, shorts and t-shirts. He then asked them whether they wanted to go swimming in the water park, which the children accepted without telling their parents.

Sources that spoke to AsiaNews are non-committal, indicating however the Italian diplomat's behaviour was "reckless". The actions and manners that "foreigners use sometimes with locals, in particular children, can be quite easily misinterpreted."

For a diplomatic representative to behave in "so unwise and superficial" manner is "odd;" hence, the accusations made by the NGO should be further explored and the story fully elucidated because paedophilia and child abuse do take place.

Arrested over Saturday night, Bosio served as Italy's ambassador to Turkmenistan since 2 December 2013.

Born in Taranto in 1968, he began his diplomatic career in 1995, four years after graduating from Rome's LUISS University in political Science.

His first posting was with the Foreign Ministry's Directorate-General for Political Affairs. In 1999, he was posted to the Italian Embassy in Algiers, where he served as First Secretary until he was appointed Italian consul in New York in 2002.

In 2006 he returned to the Foreign Ministry, at the General Directorate for the Mediterranean and Middle East, where he remained for nearly four years.

From 2010 to 2013, he held the post of first commercial counsellor at the Embassy of Italy in Tokyo.

In view of the situation, the Italian Foreign Ministry suspended the diplomat from his functions in Turkmenistan "in accordance with the provisions of the law" and is waiting for further developments.

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