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Sentence upheld in sex abuse hearing

THE COURT of Appeal on Friday upheld the conviction of an Italian man who was found guilty last year of sexually abusing minors, an NGO spokesperson said Sunday.

Fabio Cencini, 43, who was not present for Friday's hearing, was arrested in February 2008 on suspicion of abusing four girls and two boys aged between 8 and 14 years old.

Preah Sihanouk provincial court sentenced him to two years in prison in August and ordered him to pay 2 million riels (US$481) to each victim, but he was released on bail after serving three months in prison, and officials say his whereabouts are now unknown.

"I feel satisfied with the [decision] to uphold the conviction ... but I feel disappointed with the decision to release him on bail after three months' imprisonment," Samleang Seila, country director of the child rights NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE) told the Post Sunday.

Peng Maneth, a lawyer provided by APLE, said it was unclear whether Cencini was in possession of his passport at the time of his release.

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