Four Germans charged over darknet child pornography platform Elysium | News | DW | 15.05.2018

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Four Germans charged over darknet child pornography platform Elysium

The men, aged between 40 and 62, are accused of operating a gang-like child pornography network. Investigators say the group's Elysium platform had more than 110,000 registered users.

Four German men were charged by the public prosecutor's office in Frankfurt on Tuesday for being the alleged operators of the child pornography platform "Elysium."

Investigators hope the case will deal a new blow to a growing child porn market on the so-called darknet, a shadowy part of the internet favored by criminals. 

Read more: Darknet, the shady internet

The charges

  • The four men have been formally charged with alleged gang-like distribution and possession of child pornography.
  • They are accused of being administrators, programmers and moderators of the Elysium platform.
  • They were among 16 people arrested last July in Germany and Austria after the platform was exposed.
  • The men, aged 40, 57, 58, and 62, live in the southern German states of Hesse, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.
  • The eldest is also accused of abusing two children aged four and six. In the 1990s he served a prison sentence for child abuse.
  • If found guilty, the accused could face up to 10 years in prison, the eldest could be jailed for much longer.

Read more: Investigators bust major darknet child porn platform

Short-lived sequel: The site first went online at the end of 2016 and was accessible only via the darknet, a part of the web that requires the use of encryption software. Investigators believe it may have been a copy of a US based child porn platform that was raided in the same year.

Huge membership: Prosecutors say Elysium was used to exchange illegal videos and photos, and had 111,000 registered members. The site contained recordings of the "most serious sexual abuse", even of small children.

A major disruption to child porn: The case has been described as one of the biggest disruptions to the global child pornography scene in recent years. It is the first ever case against alleged German perpetrators of a child porn platform on the darknet.

How the case will proceed: The Limburg district court must now decide whether to accept the charges and proceed to trial.

Read more: Denmark: Over 1,000 youths charged for sharing underage sex video

mm/aw (AFP, dpa)