Source AP ©

Arrest warrant issued in Thailand for Canadian pedophile

Thai authorities issued an arrest warrant Thursday for a Canadian school teacher who allegedly had sex in Bangkok in 2003 with two boys who spoke out after Interpol launched a global manhunt for the man, police said.

The suspect, Christopher Paul Neil, is believed to be in Thailand, where police are trying to track him down through his network of friends.

"We have an arrest warrant for him now and we will release information about him to the media soon," said Police Maj. Gen. Wimon Pao-in.

Neil was identified by Thai police earlier this week after digitally scrambled images of him with victims were unscrambled and then released publicly by Interpol in an unprecedented international manhunt.

Three Thai youths who were 9, 13 and 14 at the time came forward Wednesday to tell police that Neil had allegedly paid them to perform oral sex on them in 2003, Wimon said, adding that the Canadian also had sex with at least one under underaged male.

The charges filed Thursday involve the older two youths, he said.

The boys also said the suspect showed them pornographic images on his computer at his apartment in Bangkok, and paid them each 500 baht to 1,000 baht for sexual relations (US$16; EUR11 to $32; EUR22), Wimon said.

"As far as the information we have, he did abuse at least four boys. Three of them have now testified and we are looking for the other one," Wimon told The Associated Press.

The boys came forward to police after spotting Neil's photograph on television when his identity was revealed Tuesday by Thai authorities.

Neil, a 32-year-old Canadian who has been a teacher in Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam, is also accused of having sex with at least a dozen Cambodian and Vietnamese boys, some as young as 6.

Border guards in Thailand and neighboring countries were on alert in case Neil tried to leave Thailand. Cameras at the immigration counter captured him Oct. 11 as he arrived at Bangkok's international airport from South Korea.

"We are quite certain he is still in Thailand and we think we are moving closer," Thai police Col. Apichart Suribunya said Wednesday. "Even if he uses a fake passport to try to get out of the country, his pictures are already published everywhere."

The hunt for Neil began three years ago when German police discovered about 200 online photographs of a man sexually abusing children. His face was digitally obscured, but German police were able to reconstruct a recognizable image of the man who has eluded police for years, and Interpol broadcast those images earlier this week.

The suspect was identified with the help of hundreds of tips from people who responded to an unprecedented appeal by Interpol for public assistance.

Apichart said police were investigating "connections in Thailand that (the suspect) made during his previous stay so we can get closer to him and his network of friends and help," he added. "We want to find this man as soon as possible to prevent him from abusing Thai children and other children."

More clues about the suspect's background emerged with the discovery of a page on the social networking Web site MySpace apparently created by Neil. Interpol officials said they believe the page was kept by Neil.

"Been kicking around Asia for the past five years, teaching mainly and finding other forms of mischief," read the profile, which also described him as "5 feet, 11 inches tall, slim and slender."

"I love teaching, can't get enough of it really," the entry says, going on to describe his passion for drama, musicals and karaoke.

Separately, friends have described Neil as outgoing and fun to be around. Co-workers at international schools gave mixed reviews of his teaching skills, but all described a man they believed to be harmless.

Before teaching in Asia, Neil had worked as a chaplain in Canada, counseling teens.

Canadian authorities have said they would seek his extradition.