A Swiss scuba diving instructor was arrested in southern Thailand for allegedly committing sex offenses against boys, police said Friday. Acting on a tip from the FBI, Thai authorities detained Bernhard Rudolf Hager, 53, of Zurich on Wednesday at a dive shop in the tsunami-devastated province of Phang Nga, police said.
American authorities found a photograph of a Western man molesting a Thai boy on the computer hard drive of a man they had arrested in Wisconsin, said police Col. Jaruvat Vaisaya. The FBI forwarded the photograph to Thai authorities, who then traced it to Hager, who has lived in Thailand for six years.
Police said when they took Hager back to his home in Phang Nga, they found a 13-year-old boy in his bed. Police said Hager admitted paying the boy about US$100 a month and having sex with a string of other minors.
Two of the boys Hager allegedly molested came from Phang Nga province's Khao Lak village, the area in Thailand that was worst hit by the 2004 tsunami, Vaisaya said.
Hager, who appeared briefly at a police news conference in Bangkok on Friday, made no public comment. He was charged with illegal detention and having sex with minors and faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted, reports the AP. I.L.