Thursday, January 21, 2010

Operation 'Koala'

Operation 'Koala': Worldwide child sex network broken up

Coninsx.06-eu-un_en_img_4912.11.07 - 23 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.

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