In the past three days, the Hessian police carried out a large-scale raid against 35 men between the ages of 17 and 60 who are suspected of having obtained child pornography videos on the Internet.

289 investigators from the State Criminal Police Office were on duty from Monday to Wednesday, and 32 objects were searched.

Alexander Juergs

Editor in the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

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The searches took place widely across the state, and apartments in the cities of Frankfurt, Gießen, Groß-Gerau, Hanau, Marburg and Weilburg were combed through.

There were also searches in the districts of Bergstrasse, Darmstadt-Dieburg, Fulda, Gießen, Groß-Gerau, Kassel, Lahn-Dill-Kreis, Main-Kinzig-Kreis, Main-Taunus-Kreis, Offenbach, Schwalm-Eder-Kreis, Vogelsbergkreis , Waldeck-Frankenberg and Wetteraukreis.

Numerous pieces of evidence, mainly computers and data carriers, were seized.

They are now to be evaluated by digital forensic experts.

The tip came from a foreign file hosting service

The investigations that preceded the searches were conducted by the Central Office for Combating Internet Crime (ZIT), which is part of the Public Prosecutor's Office in Frankfurt am Main. The investigators had found the men through a tip from a foreign filehosting service. Such services are used to save files on the Internet and share them with other users.

The operators of the platform noticed that there was child pornography stored there that could be downloaded via two public links.

Most of the videos showed very serious acts of sexual abuse against infants and young children.

The platform operators then informed the police about the files and also passed on information about the access to the material.

That was how one came across the men whose homes were now being searched.

"Not a closed group"

“Such links are distributed and passed on in relevant forums,” explains a spokeswoman for the ZIT. There are collections of such links both on the Internet and on the Darknet. There was no direct connection between the now accused men; they were "not a closed group". The links discovered were also accessed abroad.

The 35 men from Hessen, whose computers and data carriers are now being evaluated, are suspected of having acquired possession and of child pornography.

Between October 2017 and September 2019 they should have obtained the child pornographic content.

Since July this year, the Criminal Code has provided for such behavior a sentence of one to five years imprisonment.

Previously, such acts were punishable by up to three years' imprisonment or a fine.

Hesse's Interior Minister Peter Beuth was pleased with the work of the investigators.

"Anyone who sexually abuses children or has such disgusting pictures and videos will be consistently prosecuted by the law enforcement authorities," says the CDU politician.

The Hessian Justice Minister Eva Kühne-Hörmann (also CDU) advocates granting investigators against child pornography even more rights: "Often the digital footprint is the only clue to get to the perpetrators - to determine this, but does not reveal the current legal situation .

I call for traffic data storage to be reintroduced in order to finally protect the victims and not the perpetrators, ”says Kühne-Hörmann.