Operation 'Koala'

Operation 'Koala': Worldwide child sex network broken up

Coninsx.06-eu-un_en_img_4923 victims identified - Italian, Belgian suspected of masterminding videos

THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Police and prosecutors from across Europe have arrested 92 suspects allegedly linked to a network that produced and sold child abuse videos to 2,500 customers around the world, authorities said Monday.

The videos, ranging from girls in provocative poses to a father raping his young daughters, were sold to clients in 19 countries including teachers, doctors, lawyers and computer experts, prosecutors said.

The 23 victims, aged 9 to 16, were mainly Ukrainian girls duped into performing sex acts with promises of lucrative modeling careers.

The 15-month investigation — code-named Operation Koala — was triggered by the Australian police discovery in July 2006 of a video depicting a Belgian father raping his daughters, aged 9 and 11, said Menno Hagemeijer of the serious crime department of pan-European police organization Europol.

The huge investigation should "give a really clear signal to everybody that this activity is illegal, unacceptable and revolting," said Belgian prosecutor Michele Coninsx. "It is touching on the lives and souls of youngsters who cannot speak for themselves."

NBC World Blog - updated 12:21 p.m. ET Nov. 5, 2007

Prosecutor Michèle Coninsx:

Michèle Coninsx holds a Bachelor’s degree in law, a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology and also an Upper secondary school teaching degree (law) (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium). She has been instructor-expert with the Civil Aviation Administration Belgium (Ministry of Transport) in the fields of civil, judicial, constitutional, penal, criminal procedure, air law and aviation security. She has also been anti-terrorism instructor in the air with the National Aviation Security Committee (CAA). She has been Deputy (Substitute) Public Prosecutor at the Prosecutor’s Office of the Court of First Instance of Brussels (Belgium). She has been a member of the organised crime, serious larceny and anti-terrorist unit, responsible for armed robbery cases, terrorism, aviation crime, forgery and the application of the Schengen Agreement, etc. She has been - and is still - guest speaker at several international conferences. She has given courses on combating terrorism in the air and aviation security abroad at official aviation bodies, in the framework of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. She acts presently as national magistrate specialised in terrorism (since November 1997). She is also Belgian Representative of Pro-Eurojust (since March 2001) as well as Chairman of ProEurojust (since July 2001).


Photo: EC Delegation in Geneva. Members of the European Parliament visit Geneva for the 59th session of the Commission on Human Rights. Left to right: Marie-Anne Coninsx, EC Delegation in Geneva; Edward McMillan-Scott (EPP-ED, United Kingdom); Carlo Trojan, Head of EC Delegation in Geneva; Bob van den Bos, Head of MEP Delegation (ELDR, Netherlands); Michael Cashman (ESP, United Kingdom); and Armin Laschet (EPP-ED, Germany), April 2003.

11:29 Gepost door Jaap in Algemeen | Permalink | Commentaren (1) |  Facebook |


Europol: Worldwide child sex offender network dismantled The Hague, 5 November 2007

Customers from all over the world ordered tailor-made videos showing the sexual abuse of children from a modelling website run by an Italian citizen

The Hague - The Netherlands

The case, named "Operation Koala", began in 2006 when a child abuse video was discovered in Australia. This particular video had been produced in Belgium. A Belgian perpetrator and two victims were identified. Consequently, the sole producer of the material, a 42-year-old Italian national, was arrested. He was running a website on which he sold over 150 self-made, sexually explicit videos of underage girls. This business had been running for a year and a half, generating considerable profits from around 2 500 customers worldwide. The information from Australia was routed via Interpol to Belgium and Europol. The keys to the success of this operation are the provision of valuable data by Member States and Interpol and crime analysis for more than a year carried out by specialists in dealing with online child sex abuse cases at Europol and the judicial co-ordination carried out by Eurojust.

The abusive material was mainly produced in the Ukraine in the man's private studio. Some material was filmed in Belgium and in the Netherlands. The children were paid small amounts of money to pose as models in a sexually explicit fashion. One of the videos sold by the Italian suspect shows a father sexually abusing his daughters of 9 and 11 years of age. The customers were also able to order tailor-made videos. Upon request the children wore suggestive lingerie, at times bought by the customers themselves. Requests on how to pose were also given and some customers even travelled to the studio in order to attend the video shoots or to make their own private videos.

Shortly before the suspect was due to move permanently to the Ukraine, the Italian national police in Bologna arrested him. After his arrest, the Italian authorities forwarded all the digitalised material, including customer details, to Europol. The material was analysed and disseminated to the countries in which customers were identified. Eurojust and Europol, working in close co-operation, invited representatives from 28 countries to several operational meetings in The Hague.

At Eurojust, the Belgian and Italian National Members took the initiative to co-ordinate, on a judicial level, all the countries involved. This remarkable level of co-operation with all Eurojust National Members, addressing their national authorities to follow the deadlines established for the common operations, contributed to the success of the joint Europol - Eurojust operation.

Subsequent investigations were initiated by the national authorities. This led to a significant number of arrests and the seizure of a considerable amount of child abuse material. So far, 23 children between 9 and 16 years of age have been identified. Amongst those arrested were several persons working in trusted positions, such as school teachers and swimming instructors.

Europol's Director, Max-Peter Ratzel, said: "This successful investigation has been extremely time-consuming, but the fact that the perpetrators behind these outrageous assaults towards children now are facing justice makes every hour used worth it".

During a press conference in The Hague today, Europol's Deputy Director, Mr Mariano Simancas, said: "The key to the success of this operation is the provision of valuable data by Member States and crime analysis carried out by specialists in dealing with online child sex abuse cases. The quality of the intelligence reports has been praised by the countries involved and has been considered crucial in relation to obtaining search warrants".

Ms Michele Coninsx, Eurojust's National Member for Belgium, commented on the results: "On the judicial level, Belgium took the lead at Eurojust. We organised, together with Italy and Europol, four co-ordination meetings, resulting in simultaneous and co-ordinated actions in 19 countries in the European Union and beyond. An amazingly large amount of child abuse material was seized. With this large scale co-ordinated action, we want to give a signal to the potential offenders that we are determined to continue to fight against these revolting crimes. At the same time, we hope to save a lot of young future victims."

Mr Michael Kennedy, President of the College of Eurojust, added: "I am delighted to see the excellent results achieved in this case by co-operation involving investigators and prosecutors in EU Member States and counterparts outside the European Union, facilitated and supported by extensive work at Eurojust and Europol. This is a first-class example of how the difficult challenges presented by international organised criminals using the internet can be met to bring to justice those who exploit and abuse young, innocent and powerless children in many parts of the world."

In this co-ordinated action, 2 500 "customers" in 19 countries were identified; thousands of computers, videos and photographs were seized. In a large number of cases, more than a million files and pictures were found.


For further questions please contact:

EUROPOL: Mr. Soren Kragh Pedersen, Head of Corporate Communications Office +31 70 302 5118 - soren.pedersen@europol.europa.eu

EUROJUST: Mr. Joannes Thuy, Press Officer and Spokesperson Office +31 70 412 5508 - jthuy@eurojust.europa.eu


For more information per country, please contact the national authorities:

Queensland Police Force, Media and Public Affairs Branch, Taskforce Argos
Tel. +61 7 3015 2444

Mr Gerald Hesztera
Tel. +43 1 24836 85004
Email: gerald.hesztera@bmi.gv.at

Ms Lieve Pellens, Parquet Federal,
Tel. +32 2 557 77 11
Email: parquet.federal@just.fgov.be

Mr Niels Otto Fisker, Danish National Police
Tel. +45 33 14 88 88
Email: komm@rigspoliti.dk

Gilles Leclair and Marie-Louise Boulanger
Tel. +33 149274021 or +33149274007
Email: gilles.leclair@interieur.gouv.fr

Police Lieutenant Antonios Papantoniou, Security Directorate of Thessaloniki
Tel. +30-2310-388370, mobile: +30-6973231558

Det. Chief Superintendent Fridrik Smari Bjorgvinsson
Icelandic Metropolitan Police
Tel. + 354 444 1000
Email: fridrikb@lrh.is

Superintendent Kevin Donohoe
Tel. +353 1 666 2030
Email: gpro@iol.ie and Europol@garda.ie

Deputy prosecutors Mr. Filippo Di Benedetto and Mr. Nicola Proto
Tel. +39 532211095
Email: filippo.dibenedetto@giustizia.it and nicola.proto@giustizia.it

Mr Vic Reuter, Service communication et Presse, Porte Parole de la Presse
Tel. +352 - 4997 2076
Fax: +352 - 4997 2098

Dr. Donatella Frendo Dimech, Senior Counsel for the Republic
International co-Operation in criminal matters Unit
Attorney General's Chambers, The Palace, Malta
Tel. +356 2122 1223/ +31646213400
Email: dfrendodimech@eurojust.europa.eu, Donatella.m.frendo-dimch@gov.mt
Inspector Paul Caruana, Cyber Crime Unit, Malta Police, Police General Headquarters, Floriana
Tel. +356 2294 2220
Email: Paul.l.caruana@gov.mt

Kitty Nooij, Deputy Chief Prosecutor The Hague
Tel. +31 70-3399823, Ms Desiree Wilhelm

Mr. Audun Hinna Ovrebo, Head of Public Relations
National Criminal Investigation Service
Tel. +4723208090

Mr Zbigniew Urbanski
Pulawska St. no 148/150
02-514 Warsaw
Tel. +48 22 6013397
Email: z.urbanski@policja.gov.pl

Joao Guenna, Prosecutor
E-mail conneio@lisboa.diap.mj.pt

Mr Juan Jose Esteban Servus
Tel. +34913223319,
Email servicio.prensa@policia.es
Calle Julian Gonzalez Segador s/n. 28043 Madrid (ES)
Tel +34-91-582 27 39, fax +34-91-582 27 56

Det inspector Bjorn Sellstrom
Tel: +4684014657, mobile: +46708414092, fax +4686507778
Email: bjorn.sellstrom@rkp.police.se
Sr Public Prosecutor Hakan ROSWALL
International Public Prosecution Office
Box 70296 S-107 22 STOCKHOLM
Tel. +46 8 762 16 44, fax: +46 8 762 16 99
E-mail: hakan.roswall@aklagare.se

Mrs Daniele Bersier (Federal Police),
Tel. +41313231310
E-mail: daniele.bersier@fedpol.admin.ch

United Kingdom
CEOP Press Office
Tel. +44 870 000 3434
E-mail: press@ceop.gov.uk


Gepost door: James | 12-11-07

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