Seven suspected of distributing child sexual abuse material

Ljubljana – Police conducted house searches yesterday at addresses of seven people suspected of distributing child sexual abuse material online. The pictures and videos seized show foreign children aged three to 13 years, police told reporters on Tuesday.

“Inquiries so far show the victims of sexual abuse do not include Slovenian children, nor have we so far found the perpetrators producing the contentious material themselves or sexually abusing the children,” criminal investigator Robert Tekavec told reporters.

Tekavec, the head of the juvenile crime section at the General Police Administration’s Criminal Police Department, said the house searches had been conducted based on 28 complaints received via foreign law enforcement authorities from IT providers.

These alleged that the suspects had used various internet networks or services such as Google, Facebook, Snapchat, Dropbox and Kik Messenger to distribute material showing children being abused for sexual purposes.

The suspects are between 16 and 57 years old and include one woman and one foreign citizen. They are suspected of distributing 1,363 photographs and videos.

In house searches in the areas of Ljubljana, Maribor, Celje, Koper and Kranj, the police seized 119 electronic devices and electronic data carriers.

In looking into the seized evidence, the police will try to identify the children on the images, said Tekavec.

The crime of presentation, manufacture, possession and distribution of pornographic material involving minors under article 176 of the penal code carries a prison sentence of between six months and eight years.

Tipped off by foreign IT providers, the Slovenian police seized more than 320 electronic devices and data carriers in 48 house searches on suspicion of possession and distribution of child sexual abuse material in the country in 2020, 2021 and early 2022.

Tekavec said they had so far detected more than 111,000 compromising video recordings and photographs and identified among the victims 57 Slovenian children in the ages of between five and 15.

The official expressed concern over the rising trend in this type of crime in police statistics. The number of cases handled went up from 150 in 2020 to 176 the year later. The investigation rate of those crimes is between 77% and 95%.

Tekavec said perpetrators often abused their own children to produce porn material and an increasing number of reported cases involved children aged five or more who post their own recordings of themselves online.

He also warned of sexual predators lurking in online chat rooms, social networks and forums, calling on parents to supervise their children’s online activity and to equip them with knowledge so they “never face abuse either as victims or perpetrators”.