Thursday, August 22, 2019
Perfil

ARGENTINA | 30-05-2019 16:46

Police arrest paediatrician in global child porn bust

Head of Immunology and Rheumatology at the Garrahan Hospital arrested on possession of child pornography.

A nine-month investigation into a child pornography network in Argentina on Wednesday ended with the arrest of a senior doctor at Buenos Aires City's Juan P. Garrahan Children's Hospital and a 23-year-old man in Córdoba province.

Paediatrician Ricardo Alberto Russo was detained by police as part of an investigation led by US Homeland Security and the Brazilian Federal Police, which had advised their Argentine counterparts in November 2018 that over 890,000 files of child pornography had been shared from Argentina servers using peer-to-peer technology.

Russo has been detained for allegedly producing and distributing child pornography, including images of six-month-old babies taken at the hospital, Argentine authorities confirmed Wednesday.

The 55-year-old is the head of Immunology and Rheumatology at the Juan P. Garrahan children's hospital. His home in the Belgrano neighbourhood was raided as part of the investigation.

"Information was obtained from an encrypted system in the deep web, where people participate in the exchange of material involving children in truly terrible situations of sexual abuse," Security Minister Patricia Bullrich said during a press conference Thursday.

"An international paedophile network has been dismantled," Bullrich added, thanking her US and Brazilian counterparts for their "teamwork."

Some of the images seized "appear to been taken inside a clinic," Buenos Aires City's Security Minister and Vice-Mayor Diego Santilli said, speaking alongside Bullrich.

The country's Public Prosecutors Office supported that claim, saying "some of the images appear to have been taken inside the very hospital" where Russo works. The hospital will act as a plaintiff in the case, hospital officials confirmed in a statement.

Investigators said they found "photos and videos of minors between six months and 14 years of age engaged in explicit sexual activities" on two computers owned by the doctor.

Investigation

The investigation known as "Luz de Infancia III" began in November, 2018, authorities said.

Authorities said they seized computers and other equipment when they raided dozens of homes, including the doctor's. Over 90 USB sticks, 99 hard disks, 4,228 CDs and Blue-Ray disks, 57 laptop computers and 11 cameras were among the items seized. Two pistols, two revolvers and a shotgun were also found.

"We got a report and carried out raids where we seized computers and flash drives," said the Buenos Aires City Justice Secretary Marcelo D'Alessandro. "And we found convincing evidence that the children were being abused."

Russo did not provide an initial statement to the court after his lawyer refused to accept the case. The 55-year-old will be represented, for now, by a court-appointed lawyer.

A second alleged perpetrator, a 23-year-old man, was detained in the city of Río Tercero in Córdoba province on charges of "holding and distributing child pornography."

The hospital said the doctor had been removed from his post. "The hospital community is mobilised and dismayed waiting for information to clear up what happened," a statement said.

The investigation involved 40 raids across Brazil and Argentina.

In Argentina: 16 in Buenos Aires province, 11 in the City of Buenos Aires, four in Santa Fe province, two in Chaco province and one each in Entre Ríos, Santiago del Estero, Catamarca, La Rioja, Mendoza, La Pampa and Río Negro provinces.

According to reports, a computer seized from Russo's residence contained 135 videos of child pornography.

- TIMES/AP/PERFIL

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