MANILA, Philippines (AP) — An Italian diplomat facing human trafficking and child abuse allegations in the Philippines denied any wrongdoing to prosecutors on Wednesday.
Daniele Bosio, who has been suspended as Italy's ambassador to Turkmenistan, submitted an affidavit denying the criminal complaints and spoke briefly to reporters for the first time since his arrest April 5 while vacationing in the Philippines.
Prosecutors will review the evidence against Bosio and determine if there is enough to charge him in court.
"I did not do anything wrong and I hope this will be cleared," he told reporters.
He has been detained in a municipal jail in Laguna province south of Manila since being arrested in the company of three boys aged 9-12 at a local resort.
Child rights activists who saw him at the resort with the boys reported it to police in Binan township.
Tears came to Bosio's eyes on Wednesday when more than a dozen children from a Christian school in Manila arrived to show support for him. He has been giving financial support to the school for several years.
The children from the Breakthrough Christian Academy held up placards saying, "We love you Bro. Daniele" and "We support you Bro. Daniele."
Bosio's lawyer, Romeo Lumagui, said "it is just so unfortunate that a person who was sincerely trying to help is now being charged."
An earlier police statement said the diplomat told investigators the boys were street children he had brought from Manila and their parents had been informed about the trip.
The statement said the boys told police that the diplomat also took them to his house where he "personally bathed and scrubbed their naked bodies and afterwards gave them money and food."
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.