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International investigation Man sentenced for sexual abuse of boy

The entrance to the man's rooftop flat as sealed by German police, in Düsseldorf, Germany

(Keystone)

A 35-year-old German man has been sentenced to five years’ prison and sent to a psychiatric clinic for an unlimited period for the sexual abuse of a 12-year-old boy from canton Solothurn. An international manhunt, involving the FBI, was launched after the boy disappeared in the summer.

The verdict, for the serious sexual abuse of a minor, was handed down by a court in Düsseldorf, Germany, on Fridayexternal link.

The boy vanished on June 18. He was found during a police raid at the man’s Düsseldorf home a week later. The pair had made contact via an online game and the man had travelled to Switzerland, convincing the boy to return with him to Germany.

During his time in custody, the man, who has no previous convictions, confessed to his crimes. The local public prosecutor’s office is investigating whether there are any further victims.

The boy had told his parents he was taking a bike ride near his home. When he didn’t return for dinner as planned, his parents alerted the police. According to the child’s classmates, he had been counting off the days until June 18, saying they wouldn’t see him after that date.

FBI

Police in Switzerland and Germany teamed up for the investigation, which also involved the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). According to Urs Bartenschlager, head of Solothurn’s cantonal police,external link “the FBI was able to help us answer some questions”.

Police also said after the raid that the man had been in possession of child pornography.

Searches for missing people in Switzerland fall under the responsibility of cantonal and local police. Police only go public in urgent cases (e.g. minors or suspects) or if there’s a risk to the person concerned (e.g. a suicide risk).

According to Missing Children Switzerland, more than 25,000 children run away from home every year – some for a few hours, some for a few days and some forever. 

Another suspected paedophile arrested

In a separate case, police in Osnabrück, north-west Germany, said on Friday they are holding a 32 year old man suspected of sexually abusing 122 children – some of them Swiss.

When the man was arrested, police found more than 600 child pornography files in his apartment.

His victims were from Germany, Belgium and Switzerland. The local prosecutor’s office would not say exactly how many Swiss children were involved.

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swissinfo.ch and agencies

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