Australian accused of child sex tourism arrested in the Philippines
An Iranian-born Australian accused of child sex tourism and possessing child pornography in the Philippines had travelled 65 times to Asian nations in 18 months, police say.
The arrest of Farhanipour Gholamreza, 50, after he had allegedly paid money to a 13 year-old Philippine girl will bolster a call by newly elected Victorian Senator Derryn Hinch to strip convicted sex offenders of their passports.
Australian Federal Police say 15 of the trips that Mr Gholamreza made were to the Philippines, a popular destination for foreign paedophiles where there is a booming trade in online child pornography.
Records show he also visited China, Singapore and Thailand.
Senator Hinch told the Melbourne Press Club in August that as the Immigration Department withdraws the passports of bankrupts it should do the same for sex offenders.
“Now they’re not going there for the sun, they’re going there for the sons and daughters,” he said.
Police allege that Mr Gholamreza arrived in the Philippines from Sydney on August 19 to meet the 13 year-old girl whom he met through Facebook.
Police allege that Mr Gholamreza lured the girl to send explicit naked photos to him through a messaging system with the promise of money.
Facebook personnel informed authorities when they discovered the photographs.
“It’s a protocol of Facebook to monitor all the chat logs and they came upon the account of this minor (girl) chatting with an Australian national,” police superintendent Rosauro Acio told reporters.
“The victim had long been providing explicit images.”
Police allege that Mr Gholamreza twice transferred money to the girl before arriving in the Philippines where he tried to set-up a meeting outside of Manila.
But they lost contact because the Facebook account was closed.
Police and child social workers then set up a sting operation in which a police agent posed as a friend of Mr Gholamreza to facilitate a meeting between the girl and Mr Gholamreza, police allege.
As the girl’s mother went to collect money from a branch of Western Union she was detained and her daughter taken into the care of social workers.
Mr Gholamreza was arrested as he was about to fly out of Manila international airport and is seeking legal assistance.
Police said Mr Gholamreza will face charges either under Anti-child Pornography Act or the Anti-trafficking in Persons Act.
Australian Federal Police data shows that more than 2,700 registered sex offenders have travelled from Australia in the past five years.
Around 250 of them travelled to the Philippines in 2014 alone.
Meanwhile, authorities say the trial of alleged Melbourne child-porn kingpin Peter Scully, who was arrested in the Philippines last year, will be held behind closed doors to protect children he is accused of abusing.
Mr Scully, 53, pleaded not guilty to some of the most shocking child-sex crimes in Philippine history at pre-trial hearing on June 27, including raping an 18-month old baby and murdering a 12 year-old girl.
Eight alleged girl victims of Scully are being cared for under witness protection pending the trial.
Two others have returned to the care of their parents after receiving psychotherapy treatment.
The allegations against Mr Scully, who left Melbourne in 2011 after being accused of fraud and deception, have prompted calls for the reintroduction of the death penalty in the Philippines.
The story Australian accused of child sex tourism arrested in the Philippines first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.