Ethiopia arrests deported British paedophile

Date: 
2001-08-18

Audrey Gillan

A British paedophile exposed by the Guardian for abusing orphans of the Ethiopian famine is under arrest, after an apparent attempt to open another centre for children in Zambia.

David Christie, 59, was arrested under an international warrant in Lusaka, and was in the process of being flown to the UK when he was arrested by Ethiopian authorities in Addis Ababa, who took him off a transit flight bound for London. He has been detained in connection with charges of trafficking in Ethiopian children and their sexual abuse, and will appear in court on Monday.

Christie was the subject of a Guardian investigation in July 1999. In Ethiopia he targeted an agency helping orphans of the famine, and moved to live in a children's village at Jari in the southern Wollo region. He was sacked by the agency, Switzerland's biggest charity, Terre des Hommes Lausanne, after admitting an "improper sexual relationship" with one of 300 children in his care. Many others in the village of under 16-year-olds have made allegations of abuse.

Five children have given statements to Ethiopian police against Christie and his paedophile associates, three saying they were abused by him.

Following his sacking, Christie returned to London. After the Guardian printed its allegations, he changed his name to David Allen and obtained a new passport.

He could not be prosecuted because the offences pre-dated the 1997 Sex Offenders Act enabling British courts to try UK nationals for such crimes.

Terre des Hommes says it received information that Christie planned to leave the UK to work with children, and alerted the various authorities. The charity admitted it had made mistakes in dealing with Christie when it failed to tell the Ethiopian authorities of his activities.

After this, it "kept an eye on him" and prevented his recruitment as a project manager with a Pakistani organisation, Acbar, but he was not arrested.

A spokeswoman for the British embassy in Ethiopia said that a David Allen, previously known as David Christie, had had a consular visit yesterday morning. He has yet to be charged.

Christie was in a group of paedophiles who targeted charities and aid agencies in order to gain access to children. They travelled to Jari children's village, set up in 1974 to give the orphans an education and a sense of family. When Christie arrived in July 1994 - becoming Terre des Hommes' representative in Ethiopia - the village became a target for predators.

In early 1997, Christie was dismissed after taking one village boy to his bedroom. The staff and children had been having a Christmas party when his absence was noted. These disappearances had been commented on before, and staff visited Christie's room where they found a semi-naked child trying to jump from the window.

It was not only in Jari that children were abused. Christie had ready access to young boys in Addis Ababa, where thousands live on the streets, begging and accepting acts of charity. Christie had at least a dozen street boys living at his house at any one time, and would pay boys 40p to come to his house for a shower.

He allowed known paedophiles to come to his Addis house and the village to abuse children.

An internal document written by Christie's replacement, seen by the Guardian, said Christie "confessed to sexual abuse" and"admitted to having a single improper relationship with a project beneficiary". Christie was dismissed, and details of the incident passed to Scotland Yard.

Last night Colin Tucker, spokesman for Terre des Hommes in Ethiopia, said: "We are the first to admit that we didn't deal with Christie very well when he was here. I have spent the last 18 months making sure he would no longer be a threat to children. He is looking at a serious jail term now. The destruction he has left behind is terrible. Now these kids will get the chance to face him in court and take the first step towards rehabilitation."

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