Interpol tracks paedophile suspect to Thailand

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LONDON, Oct 15 (Reuters) A unique public appeal by Interpol in the hunt for a serial paedophile has identified a suspect who is now believed to be on the run in Thailand, the world police organisation said today.

Interpol did not reveal the name or nationality of the man, codenamed ''Vico'', but said he had been working as a teacher of English at a school in South Korea.

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.

Security cameras captured his image at Thai immigration when he flew into Bangkok airport from Seoul last Thursday.

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 were posted on Interpol's Web site www.interpol.int a week ago.

Interpol said more than 350 people responded to the appeal. The identification of the suspect came as a result of information provided by five sources on three different continents.

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.

REUTERS RSA KN2342

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