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Brussels ‘phone shops’ closed in police swoop

Published on 22/04/2004

April 22 2004

BRUSSELS – Police and trading standards officers have closed nearly 30 illegal Brussels shops offering cut-price phone calls and internet services, Belgian newspaper la Libre Belgique reported on Thursday.

The 26 shops were closed after the authorities launched a co-ordinated swoop on 40 ‘phone shops’ across the capital.

Phone shops have become increasingly common in Brussels in recent years, and there are now believed to be between 600 and 1,000 of them operating in the city.

They are usually set up in relatively run down neighbourhoods and consist of a number of makeshift telephone cabins offering low-cost ‘phone calls via cheap telephone companies.

The Brussels authorities are cracking down on ‘phone shops because they say many of them are fly-by-night operations that have been opened without proper planning permission and employ illegal immigrants.

It is also common for phone shop owners to close down their premises and disappear without paying their telephone bills, the authorities add.

During Wednesday’s raids police arrested 27 people suspected of working in Belgium illegally.

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Subject: Belgian news