The 38-year-old Plettenberg Bay-based computer engineer was arrested in January last year after international police swooped on his seaside home. Photo: Yolande Stander
Plettenberg Bay – The Knysna Regional Court heard on Tuesday, that a plea agreement is back on the cards in the matter involving a Plettenberg Bay man, accused of having links to a horrific international baby pornography network. This after the man’s plea bargain was rejected in September last year.

The 38-year-old computer engineer, who cannot be named until he has pleaded, briefly took his place in the dock for the first time since the charge sheet in the matter had been completed. The formulation of the charge sheet had caused several delays in the case which has been on the court roll for more than two years now.

One of the issues with the charge sheet was that the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) indicated that it wanted the man to be individually charged for every image in question and that each image had to be described in the charge sheet.

The State indicated that there were more than 179 000 images related to the case. These images were allegedly discovered when Belgium and South African police swooped on his seaside home on January 13, 2015. They allegedly found sections of files containing thousands of images and videos of violent assaults as well as internet addresses of more than 300 other alleged paedophiles.

Despite the vast number of images, the State managed to describe each of them to complete the charge sheet earlier this year.

Last year, before there were issues with the charge sheet, the man submitted a plea bargain – after months of negotiations – but this was rejected by the DPP in September last year.

Among the reasons for the rejection was the number of images in question. Initially there were 179 000, but his lawyer argued that there were duplications and that there were subsequently just more than 50 000. The charge sheet now included all the original images. The matter was postponed to February 20, for a plea bargain to be submitted to the DPP for a decision.

The Plett local was the first South African to have been arrested as part of Cloud 9 – an operation by South African and Belgian police responsible for cracking down on a child pornography ring linked to a cyber meeting space for paedophiles whose fetishes seem to be the sexual abuse of babies.

Some of the images found included the torture and murder of babies as young as only a few days old.

African News Agency