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Last Updated: Friday, 19 October 2007, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Thais arrest paedophile suspect
Christopher Paul Neil at a police press conference, 19/10
Police believe Mr Neil abused at least 12 youngsters
A Canadian paedophile suspect who was the subject of a global manhunt has been arrested in Thailand.

Police tracked down 32-year-old teacher Christopher Paul Neil in north-east Thailand. They suspect him of appearing in 200 online images of child abuse.

Mr Neil, who faces 20 years in jail if convicted, was brought to a news briefing, but did not answer questions.

Interpol had appealed for help after experts unscrambled digitally-distorted photos of the suspect.

The international police agency sparked a worldwide manhunt when it launched its first global appeal to the public for information on the suspected paedophile.

Dec 2004: Abuse photos, some date-stamped 2002 or 2003, found on internet
8 Oct 2007: Interpol's global appeal for information
9 Oct: Interpol says more than 200 responses received
11 Oct: Suspect flies into Bangkok on one-way ticket
19 Oct: Suspect arrested in north-east Thailand

The Thai courts issued an arrest warrant on Thursday after a 17-year-old Thai youth told the authorities the suspect had sexually molested him several years ago.

Mr Neil was picked up by officers on Friday morning in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima, 250 km (150 miles) north-east of the capital, Bangkok.

He was driven to the Thai capital where he was paraded in handcuffs in front of gathered journalists at a police station.

The BBC's Chris Hogg, in Bangkok, said there were chaotic scenes as Mr Neil was led into the building, with police having to fend off a scrum of reporters and photographers.

Police chiefs said he was suspected of abusing at least 12 youngsters - at least one said to be under 10 years old.

The arrest follows lengthy efforts to identify a man seen in more than 200 online images of alleged sexual abuse involving young boys.

The man's face had been digitally scrambled, but Interpol used software to create a usable image of the suspect.

thailand map

On 11 October, footage from a security camera at Bangkok airport recorded Mr Neil's entry into Thailand from South Korea, where he had been working as an English teacher.

After hundreds of responses to its appeal for help, Interpol named him as a suspect earlier this week.

"The fact that we went to the public was the breakthrough," Interpol detective Mick Moran told AFP news agency.

"We are absolutely delighted that this guy has been arrested."

Officers now believe the Canadian might have abused boys in Thailand as well as in Vietnam and Cambodia - and he could face charges in any of those countries.

He could also be charged in Canada, which has laws allowing for the prosecution of its nationals for child-sex crimes committed abroad.

Thai police have appealed for more victims to come forward and indicated he would be charged in Thailand, but they did not rule out the possibility of extradition.

Mr Neil, from British Columbia, has been teaching at schools in Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam since 2000.

Christopher Paul Neil at Thai police news conference

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