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Former Diplomat Cleared Of Child Porn Charges

A Thai court has cleared a former Australian diplomat of child pornography charges.
Robert Scoble, 55, was on trial for distributing child pornography for profit on the Internet.
He was arrested in March after the Australian embassy in Bangkok asked Thai police to carry out an investigation into the activities of his Bangkok gay and lesbian travel agency.
A subsequent raid on Scoble's home uncovered pornographic videos depicting mature men engaged in sex acts with young boys.
Under Thai law it is not illegal to possess child pornography, but it is an offence to sell or trade in pornography.
The judge ruled that there was no evidence that Scoble had duplicated the material.
However, he was fined and given a seven month suspended sentence on lesser charges of handing out copies of a gay guide to clients of his travel business.

www.abc.net.au (24-12-2004)



Ex-Diplomat Avoids Thai Jail Over Porn

A Thai court has handed former Australian diplomat Robert Scoble a suspended jail sentence after he was found guilty of distributing pornography for trade.
Scoble, 56, was given a seven month sentence, suspended for two years, for the pornography offence and a second charge of employing an illegal alien. He was also fined $A330.
The court ruled he would not be deported.
Scoble had denied the charge of trading in and distributing pornography, but pleaded guilty to employing an unregistered foreign worker in a travel agency that catered to gay and lesbian travellers.
Scoble was arrested in March along with American John Gross, with whom he ran the travel agency in Bangkok.
They were charged after they were found to have kept a locally-produced magazine, Thai Guys, at the travel agency.
The magazine, which promoted gay tours in Thailand, carried an ad for the agency and was deemed to be available for "distribution" because it was kept at the office.
Gross, who was found guilty of the same two charges, was handed an eight month sentence, also suspended for two years, and fined $A400.
His sentence was slightly harsher as he had pleaded not guilty to both offences.
But the court also ruled Gross could stay in Thailand.
Outside the court today, Scoble said: "I found it a slightly surprising result. I will say I am innocent."
A lawyer acting for the pair said an appeal may be lodged.
"I do believe we will appeal. I believe these magazines are not pornographic, although it (the suspended sentences) is a mercy on the part of the judge," lawyer Ratpratan Tulatorn said.
Scoble and Gross were arrested in March after surveillance was carried out based on information from the Australian Embassy in Bangkok.
The surveillance followed complaints made to Thailand's Tourism Authority.
A long-time resident of Thailand, Scoble served as a diplomat in Thailand and Vietnam in the 1970s and 1980s, but left the foreign service over child pornography allegations.
Over the past decade he has worked as a tour operator in Bangkok.

The Age (24-12-2004)





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