"Swirly-face" pedophile suspect on trial in Thailand

Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:18am EDT
 
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By Nopporn Wong-Anan

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Canadian pedophile suspect Christopher Neil went on trial in Thailand on Monday, more than four months after he was arrested in a global man-hunt triggered by "swirly face" images of abuse found on the Internet.

Neil, his wrists and ankles shackled as he appeared in the Bangkok Criminal Court, pleaded not guilty to four charges of molesting and distributing pornographic images of two Thai boys, a prosecutor told reporters.

If found guilty, the 32-year-old could spend up to 20 years in jail.

"I just hope there is justice in Thailand," Neil, clean-shaven and wearing orange-brown prison clothes, told reporters before entering the courtroom.

Neil was caught after clever police work unraveled his digitally scrambled face from images of abuse found on the Internet, prompting Interpol to issue a unique public appeal.

The pictures are thought to have been taken in Vietnam and Cambodia, so fall outside Thai jurisdiction.

However, after Neil fled to Thailand from South Korea, where he had been teaching, two Thai brothers came forward and accused him of paying for oral sex when they were 9 and 14, grounds for prosecution under Thai law.

Three charges of molesting underage children, depriving children of parental care and restraint of freedom are connected to the 9-year-old boy. Neil is also charged with distributing pornographic images of the brothers.   Continued...

 
<p>Canadian Christopher Paul Neil arrives at the Bangkok Criminal Court March 10, 2008. Neil went on trial in Thailand on Monday, more than four months after he was arrested in a global man-hunt triggered by "swirly face" images of abuse found on the Internet. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom</p>