Every Other Prostitute in Brussels Is from Bulgaria's City of Sliven - Report

Crime | November 25, 2008, Tuesday // 00:00

Every other prostitute in Brussels is from the Bulgarian city of Sliven, according to an extensive article published in the Belgium daily "Le Soir", the Bulgaria Information Agency (BTA) reported.

The article is dedicated to the official opening of the international three-day congress in Rio de Janeiro focused on sexual exploitation of children and adolescents.

The article cites a statement made by an employee of the Belgium Federal Police Unit for fighting human trafficking as saying: "We know that out of 200 prostitutes in the Gare Du Nord neighborhood, 70% are Bulgarian and 70% of them are from the city of Sliven or adjacent areas.

The author, Philippe Delepierre tells in detail the story of a young Bulgarian girl under the alias Elena, who was enticed by a man, latter proven to be a pimp, to leave Bulgaria with the promise of a better life. The young waitress from Sliven was taken out on the country, on a bus to Brussels, along with two other girls. The bus driver has been an accomplice of the man.

In Brussels, Elena was met by another pimp and was forced into prostitution the very next day after her arrival. She was eventually returned back to Bulgaria only to be resold as a prostitute and was sent to the Netherlands. On her next trip to Sliven, Elena managed to escape and to get in touch with her mother. Both filed a complaint with the police and the girl was placed under police protection.

The money Elena earned for herself during the long ordeal amounts to EUR 1,000, according to the author.

The people involved in Elena's trafficking, including the bus driver, have been tried and sentenced.

"Since then, the Sliven police had doubled their efforts to eliminate the criminal networks in the city. The Sliven prosecutor has received 7 files while the chief investigator for organized crime in Sliven, Petko Cholakov spoke before an investigative committee in Brussels just several weeks ago," Delepierre writes.

"One of Sliven's most notorious pimps, Atanas Mundev, is under suspicion for attempting to corrupt the City Hall there. In order to make things appear legal, he invested in the city's public parks.
Today, after barely surviving a shooting for hire, in which he received eight bullets, he is in jail serving a money laundering sentence. However, the authorities failed to find any proof about his participation in a huge prostitution ring," the author continues.

The Brussels police officers, dealing with human trafficking, are currently investigating 70 cases involving Sliven, the article states, citing a police source as saying "in the last few years we identified 2,000 prostitutes from this city (Sliven). Often they are in Brussels only in passing, and are sent to other countries.

The article further points out that the Bulgarian girls, who work in Brussels, behind the so-called "shop windows" were just the tip of the iceberg.

"The other ones, Roma and Bulgarian girls, those who do not end up behind the shop windows in Brussels or Amsterdam, are on the sidewalks and there are many of them, especially in Greece, Spain or Italy. In Bulgaria as well. The girls there are often under age," writes "Le Soir."

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