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Nearly 200 pedophilic films and images were found on the personal computer of a Haifa pediatrician suspected of being part of an international child-pornography distribution ring, according to an indictment filed yesterday at Haifa Magistrate's Court. The suspect, Avraham Barkai, 44, has denied distributing the material.

Barkai is alleged to have habitually watched child pornography for 15 years, at some point even installing a program allowing him to provide pornographic content to, and receive from, other users. Police do not suspect Barkai of having had improper relations with patients or other children.

Barkai's home was searched in June after police received information from Australian authorities earlier this year that an Israeli was participating in an international child-pornography distribution network.

Investigators with the police's Lahav 433 crime-fighting unit conducted a two-month search that ultimately led them to Barkai.

Investigators were reportedly shocked by the scope and nature of the films discovered, many of which feature extremely young children engaged in lewd acts.

Police do not suspect other Israelis of involvement in trafficking the child pornography.

Barkai's attorney, Sharon Nahary, said in response to the allegations, "The picture painted in the indictment is completely different from the man we know, and the truth will be revealed in court in due time."

Barkai, certified as a pediatrician in 1999, works at the Neveh Sha'anan branch of the Meuhedet health maintenance organization but has been inactive since HMO administrators learned of the allegations from media reports earlier this week.

"Meuhedet has yet to receive any indictment purportedly filed, or any other document, against the physician," the HMO said in response. "If and when it arrives, we will respond, of course, as required."