MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The family of an Italian ambassador detained in the Philippines on human trafficking and child abuse complaints has denied the accusations, calling the case "a big mistake."
The parents and brother of Daniele Bosio, Italy's suspended ambassador to Turkmenistan, said Tuesday that Bosio has a long history of helping disadvantaged children and did not abuse the three underage boys found with him at a resort in Laguna province south of Manila.
Philippine police arrested the vacationing diplomat on April 5 after being alerted by child rights activists who saw him at the resort with the boys, aged 9 to 12.
A police statement said the diplomat told investigators during questioning that the boys "were street children that I had brought from Manila" and that they had informed their parents about the trip. The statement said the boys told police that the diplomat brought them to his house where he "personally bathed and scrubbed their naked bodies and afterwards gave them money and food."
The complaints were filed before a prosecutor, who will determine if there is enough evidence for formal charges to be brought against the 46-year-old diplomat.
Bosio is to appear before the prosecutor on Wednesday. His family and friends, who arrived in Manila from Rome on Tuesday, also plan to attend.
His father, Mario Bosio, said the case was "a big mistake" and his son was absolutely not guilty of the allegations.
"In the philosophy of my son, children are pure and saints," the 78-year-old retired navy admiral said in an interview.
He said his son started volunteer work in organizations working with poor and sick children in 1994.
Sara Russo, a friend of the family, said she was with Bosio when he traveled to Manila two years ago, and that he lived among the poor and sponsored two children in a school in the impoverished community of Payatas.
The Italian foreign ministry suspended Bosio from his duties after Philippine authorities upheld his detention.
The Philippine anti-trafficking law sets a penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of at least 2 million pesos ($44,500) if the victim is a child.
Child abuse carries a prison term of up to 40 years.