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Monday, 19 August, 2002, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Thailand to deport child porn suspect
Eric Franklin Rosser [c] is flanked by security guards as he arrives in court
Rosser [c] faces six child pornography counts in the US
A court in Thailand has ordered the extradition of an American man wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on charges of producing and distributing child pornography.

Eric Rosser shortly after his re-arrest in August last year
Rosser used to teach the children of wealthy Thai families
Eric Franklin Rosser, a former internationally renowned concert pianist, is expected to be extradited back to the US within three months, court officials said on Monday.

Judge Sanchai Limtaibool from the Bangkok criminal court said there was "enough evidence" to warrant granting the US request.

Mr Rosser has 15 days to appeal against the order, but Thai officials said that he would not do so.

"I found my treatment by Thailand very reasonable and I love this country," he told reporters outside the courtroom.

"I hope sometime I could come back," he added, before beginning to cry.

On the run

The extradition will come as a relief to the Thai authorities, who in recent years have been trying to clean up the country's image as a haven for paedophiles by taking action against the leading figures in child sex rings.

Thai child prostitutes
Thailand is trying to tackle the problem of child sex abuse

Mr Rosser, originally from Syracuse, New York, was arrested in Thailand in February 2000 on charges of lewd behaviour and possession of hundreds of explicit images of children with intent to distribute them globally.

Thai police say he skipped bail two months later and escaped on fake passports, spending 18 months on the run in Europe and Asia.

He also lost weight and had plastic surgery to change his facial appearance, the police allege.

In his absence, he was indicted in the US in March 2000 on six counts relating to the making and distribution of child pornography - one video reportedly shows him having sex with an 11-year-old girl.

He faces 20 years in prison for each of the charges against him.

In December 2000, he also became the first child pornography suspect to be placed on the FBI's Most Wanted List - alongside men such as Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden and former Taleban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar.

Sympathy plea

Mr Rosser was finally re-arrested by Thai police in August last year as he attempted to re-enter the country on a false British passport, Reuters news agency reported.

He had reportedly come back to visit his Thai wife and child.

Mr Rosser, a pianist who once played with the rock star John Mellencamp, once taught the piano to children of wealthy Thai families.

At the time of his initial arrest, he denied allegations that he ran an operation sending child pornography around the world.

But in an extraordinary confession, he admitted involvement in some sexual acts with children.

He pleaded for sympathy, saying he was a child masquerading in a man's body.

See also:

21 Aug 01 | Americas
20 Oct 00 | Europe
15 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
27 Dec 00 | Americas
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