October 15, 2007 / 5:19 PM / 12 years ago

Interpol tracks pedophile suspect to Thailand

LONDON (Reuters) - A unique public appeal by Interpol in the hunt for a serial pedophile has identified a suspect who is now believed to be on the run in Thailand, the world police organization said on Monday.

Interpol said the man it codenames “Vico” had been working as a teacher of English at a school in South Korea. But it said that for “case investigative reasons” it could not yet reveal his real name or nationality.

He fled to Thailand last week, three days after Interpol published photographs of him on its Web site and issued a worldwide public appeal to identify him.

Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said in a statement: “Thailand is at the centre of an international manhunt, and authorities in the country, in cooperation with Interpol and police around the world, are hunting him down.”

He praised the “remarkable” response to the appeal and added: “We must once again enlist the public’s support, this time to pinpoint Vico’s current location.”

Investigators have been trying for three years to track down the suspect after German police discovered the first of some 200 photographs on the Internet in which he was shown abusing 12 young 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 unscramble it.

The cleaned-up images, showing a white man with receding black hair, were posted on Interpol’s Web site www.interpol.int a week ago.

On Monday the police organization released an image of the suspect taken by security cameras at Bangkok airport last Thursday after he flew in from Seoul. He looks significantly older and balder.

Interpol said more than 350 people responded to last week’s appeal, and the suspect was identified from information provided by five sources on three different continents.

Police services and prosecutors in countries involved were continuing to collect and analyze evidence in order to bring charges against ‘Vico’ as soon as possible, it said.

Interpol said it was the first time it had made such a worldwide appeal, direct to the public. Normally it is up to police forces in individual member countries to make appeals.

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