Saturday, November 03, 2007

Accused pedophile Orville Mader remanded after court appearance Friday

The Canadian Press

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - An accused pedophile who managed to slip through a Thai dragnet before being arrested at Vancouver International Airport will remain behind bars while he searches for a lawyer.

Orville Mader made a brief court appearance in this community just east of Vancouver.

The Crown is seeking a court order preventing Mader, if he's released on bail, from contacting anyone under the age of 14 or going near places such as playgrounds and daycares where kids might be found.

The former Vancouver and Kitchener, Ont., resident was arrested Thursday after stepping off a flight from Thailand, where police accuse him of molesting an eight-year-old boy.

Canada Border Service agents were alerted that Mader was on a flight to Vancouver via Japan and they, in turn, notified RCMP. Officers were waiting for Mader at the airport.

Thai officials had been looking for Mader since earlier this week after a man complained that his son had been forced into sex with Mader by another man.

Mader's arrest came just one day after police in the Thai beach resort town of Pattaya issued a warrant for him.

Thai officials have said they want Mader back and expect he'll be returned quickly.

But legal experts in Canada say it could be months or years before that happens, if it ever does.

A spokesman for the federal Department of Justice said Friday it normally takes between 18 months to three years for someone to go through the extradition process.

Justice officials in Vancouver say they haven't received a formal request for Canada to ship Mader back.

But when they do, Canada could decide to refuse it in favour of charging him under this country's relatively new law against child sex tourism.

Kevin McCullough speculated the Thais may not get Mader back as fast as they'd like.

McCullough represented Canadian Michael Karas, who was wanted in Thailand on charges he murdered his Thai wife.

McCullough argued in 2001, among other things, that his client should not be extradited because of what he said was the Thai government's shoddy record on human rights.

McCullough lost and further court arguments followed, but McCullough said Friday that Karas is still in Canada.

More well-known are the repeated attempts by Thailand officials to extradite Rakesh Saxena, a fugitive Thai banker who has been in Vancouver fighting to stay in Canada since 1996.

He is accused of looting a Bangkok bank but has argued he will be killed if returned to his home country.

Saxena has mostly been under house arrest while he launches appeal after appeal of orders to deport him.

"Canada has never surrendered a soul to Thailand, in spite of people being extradited," said McCullough. "I don't think there's an issue that Amnesty and other groups see them as having a problem.

"Although we here in Canada would hope that all countries would be as just as we are and hold justice as we do so importantly, it's clear that Thailand has developed an international reputation as a place with some problems in the criminal justice system."

Chris Girouard, a spokesman for the federal Department of Justice, said the cases of Karas and Saxena are unusual and said Canada has sent people back to Thailand.

"It all depends on the courts, on the submissions, on the timing. At any point in time, the person can waive the extradition process," Girouard said.

Canada could also decide to prosecute Mader under its own laws against child sex tourism.

There have been very few charges levied under that law and McCullough argues the law has never been tested at the appeal level.

McCullough believes it wouldn't stand, but Benjamin Perrin, an associate international law professor at the University of British Columbia, disagrees.

"If there is going to be a big extradition fight and there's sufficient evidence, it's probably a better alternative to have him face charges here in Canada rather than have a long, protracted legal battle," said Perrin, adding victims could testify from Thailand via video link.

Because Mader is in Canada, Canada gets first dibs on whether to prosecute him here or start the process to send him back, Girouard said.

The decision would be made by the B.C. Attorney General's office.

A spokesman for the ministry could not be reached for comment.

That compares with Christopher Neil, another Vancouver-area resident who was picked up in Thailand after an international manhunt last month on charges of sexually assaulting children and posting pictures of his acts on the Internet.

Because the Thais have Neil, they get the first opportunity to prosecute him, Girouard said.

"Usually, the law where the person physically is is the one that usually takes precedence."

Mader's arrest came just one day after police in the Thai beach resort town of Pattaya issued a warrant for him.

Sgt. Maj. Pottaput Kamho said he got word from police in Bangkok that Mader had been arrested some time on Thursday.

Sgt. Sompol Nakkumpan, the lead investigator in the case, and Constable Annie Linteau with B.C.'s RCMP E Division, also confirmed the arrest. Linteau said there's a possibility Mader could be investigated for possible prior allegations.

Nakkumpan said Mader came to their attention after the father of an eight-year-old boy alleged that his son had been sexually abused.

He said the boy reported being taken to a hotel where the encounter with Mader allegedly took place.

So far, Mader is facing charges in connection with the one incident. However, Nakkumpan says the Canadian is under investigation for two other similar incidents.

Mader has had previous contact with Asian police regarding alleged sex crimes.

In 2004, Cambodian police arrested him on two charges of sexually abusing young boys, but the case did not go to court.

Several Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, are popular with pedophiles due to lax law enforcement, corruption in the justice system and the easy availability of young boys and girls who are forced into prostitution by poverty.

Pattaya is a popular tourist destination with a reputation for a thriving sex industry and high crime rate.

Police said Mader and Neil had some mutual connections in Pattaya and were known to frequent the same hotel.

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