Aussie police save girl in pedophile bust

AUSTRALIAN police have helped smash an international paedophile ring, rescuing a four-year-old child from alleged abuse by her grandfather and laying almost 200 charges against nine local men.

More than 90 arrests have been made in eight countries as a result of Operation Koala.

The European Union’s co-ordinator of investigations and prosecutions, Eurojust, said today that 40 arrests had been made in Britain, 21 in France, 11 in Spain, eight in Sweden, five in Belgium, four in Italy, two in Iceland and one in Denmark.

The arrests included not only the network’s operators but also its clients who viewed sexually graphic images of children on the internet.

Queensland police executed 13 search warrants as part of their investigations, operating under the codename Pariah.

Nine men, aged between 29 and 64, have been charged with a total of 188 charges, while more than two million images of child exploitation have been seized.

Police said one of the arrests led to the rescue of a four-year-old Queensland child from her grandfather, who is alleged to have been recording sexually explicit images and movies of the child over two years.

Detective Superintendent Peter Crawford, from Queensland’s State Crime Operations Commands Child Safety and Sexual Crimes Investigation Group, said it had been a rewarding experience to have the international co-operation in this case.

“The dismantling of a commercial child pornography enterprise and the removal of 23 children from harm in Europe and a child in Queensland is an outstanding result,” he said.

“There is no lower form of human behaviour than those that preside over the commercial sexual exploitation of children.”

In 2006, the Queensland police Task Force Argos intercepted child abuse images and videos depicting the serious sexual assault of two young girls on the internet.

The video and photo evidence was referred to Interpol in France, where a task force was established to locate the two children.

Their Belgian father was tracked down and arrested, as was the 42-year-old Italian man responsible for filming the material.

As a result of the arrests, a worldwide search was initiated for the subscribers to the Italian man’s website, involving authorities in 28 countries.

The operation was codenamed Koala because of its Australian origins.

To date, 23 child victims between the age of nine and 16 had been identified by authorities in Europe, and a significant number of arrests had been made, Europol, the European Union law enforcement organisation, said in a statement from the Netherlands.

Among those arrested were several people working in trusted positions such as school teachers and swimming instructors.

A considerable amount of child abuse material has also been seized.

Europol said subscribers to the website were able to order tailor-made videos, with children wearing suggestive lingerie bought by the subscribers themselves.

Some customers even travelled to the Ukrainian studio where the majority of the material was filmed to make their own private videos, Europol said.

Published in: on November 6, 2007 at 8:31 am  Leave a Comment  

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