Brussels gang members in court on forced prostitution charges

The trial of twelve members of the Fioul city gang has started in Brussels.  The gang members are facing charges relating to a set of girls that they forced into prostitution.  The matter came to light in 2019 when police freed a 16-year-old French girl, who was being forced to prostitute herself from a house in Ukkel.

The girl was a runaway.  Her boyfriend allegedly sold her to the gang that operates in Vorst and St Gillis for 2,000 euros. The girl then allegedly had to prostitute herself in the basement of the house in Ukkel as well as in hotel rooms. Police were tipped off by a family friend, who saw her picture on a prostitution website.

Nine suspects were held.  All are now at liberty awaiting the outcome of the trial except for Youness Z, seen as the gang leader, who is under electronic supervision and has to wear a tag. He together with his girlfriend, who supplied the 16-year-old with suitable lingerie, is suspected of fixing appointments with clients eager to meet the girl

Several other victims were identified in the course of the investigation. 

“The identity of a number of girls could not be established” says Heidi De Pauw of Child Focus, the organisation for missing and sexually exploited children.

“We want to give these girls a voice.  We also want to impress on the outside world that this system of forced sexual exploitation by city gangs exists in Belgium.  Victims are wary of filing a complaint.  Often, they don’t see themselves as victims or fear reprisals.  We hope the judge imposes stiff penalties.”.  

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