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Interpol identifies Canadian pedophile suspect
October 16, 2007 / 3:33 AM / 10 years ago

Interpol identifies Canadian pedophile suspect

BANGKOK (Reuters) - After an unprecedented global appeal, Interpol identified a suspected serial pedophile being hunted across Asia on Tuesday as Christopher Paul Neil, a Canadian now believed to be in hiding in Bangkok.

<p>An undated photo of a suspected Canadian pedophile taken from the Interpol web site on October 16, 2007. Cambodian police said on Tuesday a suspected serial pedophile being hunted by Interpol across Asia was a Canadian national called Christopher Paul Neil, born in 1975. REUTERS/Handout</p>

Panaspong Sirawongse of Interpol in Thailand said Neil, whose digitally swirled face in Internet photos of child sex abuse was unscrambled by German police computer experts, had taught at an international school in the Thai capital in 2003-04.

He did not name the school, but said Thai immigration, crime suppression and child crime police were hunting for Neil, who entered the country last week from South Korea after Interpol posted unscrambled pictures of his face on the Web.

“They are also looking for children he abused and took photos with,” Panaspong told Reuters. “There were three boys he had abused. One boy has been identified and is being sought, two others have not been identified.”

Keo Vanthan, deputy director of Interpol in neighboring Cambodia, where police say Neil was photographed sexually abusing small boys, said border authorities had been alerted in case he tried to sneak out of Thailand by land.

“We have issued an alert to all our international borders,” he said.

UNSWIRLED

Detectives have been trying to track down Neil, who was born in 1975, since German police discovered photographs on the Internet three years ago showing him raping 12 boys in Vietnam and Cambodia.

His face was disguised with a swirly digital pattern, but experts at Germany’s BKA federal crime office managed to unravel the image, to reveal a white man with receding black hair.

When Interpol posted the cleaned-up picture of the suspect on its Web site (www.interpol.int) -- the first time it has issued a direct worldwide appeal -- more than 350 people came forward.

Neil, who had thus far been known only by the codename “Vico”, was identified by information from five sources on three different continents, the international police body said.

On Monday, it released an image of Neil taken by security cameras at Bangkok airport last Thursday when he flew in from Seoul, where he had also been teaching. In the latest image, he looks significantly older and balder and is wearing glasses.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said a student at a school in the southern city of Gwangju had identified Neil as his teacher for two months until he stopped showing up for class on Thursday -- three days after his picture was first released.

Neil taught social studies and English and had been to the University of British Columbia, the student was quoted as saying. He also said Neil had been generally liked but had a temper.

The Canadian embassy in Bangkok declined to comment.

Additional reporting by Ek Madra in Phnom Penh

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