Marriage bureau in 'human smuggling' inquiry
28 July 2005, BRUSSELS — The Brugge public prosecutor and Economic Affairs Ministry have started an investigation into the international relationships bureau Europegirls.
28 July 2005
BRUSSELS — The Brugge public prosecutor and Economic Affairs Ministry have started an investigation into the international relationships bureau Europegirls.
The bureau offers 300 foreign women already living in Belgium up for marriage. Most of the women primarily come from the former Eastern Bloc countries, newspaper 'De Standaard' reported on Wednesday.
However, the Brugge public prosecutor is investigating whether the website has breached human smuggling laws or legislation regulating marriage bureaux.
"We want to know who is behind this, because it appears in the police report that the contact number consulted by us is a business that has nothing to do with a marriage agency," prosecutor Jean-Marie Berkvens said.
The Economic Affairs Ministry is investigating whether the girls presented on the website actually exist, have submitted an application with the bureau and agreed for it to publish their details.
However, the ministry said the fact that Europegirls has already admitted the women are not actually in Belgium despite the fact it claims they live here, is already a problem.
Inspector director Benoît Anthonis also said many of the photos on the website were pasted across from other magazines and that the women are unaware of the relationship mediation. Clients end up being the victims, he said.
However, agency owner Björn Wybo said his bureau is reliable. Despite the fact it is not registered with the Economic Affairs Ministry, he says Europegirls is the popularised name of Vlarus, a relationship bureau in Destelbergen.
Wybo bought Vlarus and said it can provide good references. Nevertheless, he ruled out trying to hinder the prosecutor's and ministry's investigations into the agency, located at www.europegirls.be.
Eastern Europe marriage candidates have elbowed past Asian women in the market in recent years because the region is closer to Belgium and their features of those women differ less than Western European females.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news