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30 March 2016

Internationally wanted paedophile behind bars thanks to swift police action by Cambodia and Belgium via INTERPOL

A fugitive wanted by INTERPOL Brussels for serious child sex offences has been arrested in Cambodia and deported to Belgium following international police cooperation between the National Central Bureaus (NCBs) in Phnom Penh and Brussels and specialized units of their national police.

INTERPOL Brussels requested the publication of an INTERPOL Red Notice against 60-year old Dutch national Pieter Ceulen in January 2016 when he jumped bail further to his conviction and sentencing to 19 years in prison for the rape and sexual exploitation of children and for possession and distribution of violent child abuse images.

Global police cooperation quickly led to his Phnom Penh arrest on 11 March and deportation to Belgium’s Zaventem airport on 17 March where he was arrested and taken into custody by Antwerp local police and Zaventem’s Airport Police.

“This case clearly demonstrates the need for police to be able to work together and share critical information quickly and efficiently in getting such good operational results. INTERPOL’s policing tools enabled us to coordinate police action taking place almost 10,000 kilometers from home, putting a dangerous criminal behind bars before more children could fall victim to his atrocious crimes,” commented Director Peter De Buysscher, Head INTERPOL Brussels and Belgium’s International Police Cooperation Directorate.

NCB cooperation with police in the field was key to the success of this case. Antwerp local police and Belgium’s Fugitive Active Search Team – called FAST Service – worked closely with INTERPOL Brussels in sharing targeted intelligence at national level. Pieter Ceulen’s swift location in Cambodia was the result of close cooperation between INTERPOL Phnom Penh and several units of Cambodia’s national police, including its Human Trafficking Unit, Criminal Investigation Department, Scientific and Technical Police Department, Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit, Immigration Department, Siem Reap local police, and the National Child Protection Unit. 

“INTERPOL Phnom Penh’s hands-on access to INTERPOL policing tools and worldwide NCB network were fundamental to the success of this investigation,” commented Major General Sokharaksmey Lim, Acting Head of INTERPOL Phnom Penh.
“Cambodia is fully committed to locating and arresting criminals who think our country is a place to avoid prosecution. I would like to thank INTERPOL Brussels for its first-rate cooperation in helping put this dangerous criminal behind bars.Congratulations to everyone on a job well done,” added Mr Lim.

With Pieter Ceulen’s Red Notice authorized by INTERPOL Brussels for public dissemination, the fugitive was also recognized in the streets of Phnom Penh and several citizens tipped off INTERPOL’s Fugitives Investigative Support Unit as to his whereabouts via its public website. This information was immediately shared with INTERPOL Phnom Penh.

Images retrieved from the seizures of Pieter Ceulen’s home computers will now be compared against those held in INTERPOL’s International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database to establish whether any of the victims have previously been identified, or represent a new series of abusive images.

To date, the ICSE database has led to the identification of some 8,300 victims – in 2015 an average of seven identifications were made per day – and the arrest of more than 4,000 offenders.

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