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Somali Model Says Belgian Police Treated Her Like 'Prostitute': Reports
VIENNA, March 11, 2008 — Somali-born model and human rights campaigner Waris Dirie, who briefly went missing in Brussels last week, has accused Belgian police of treating her like a prostitute, media reported Tuesday.
Dirie, a UN ambassador in the campaign against female genital mutilation, said police threatened to put her in jail when she asked for their help in finding her hotel after leaving a nightclub, Austria's Kurier daily reported.
"They treated me like a prostitute," she was reported to have said in comments filmed as part of a documentary currently being made about her.
She also said her requests for help at two police stations were ignored "because of the colour of her skin," said Osterreich daily.
She is currently hospitalised in Vienna.
Jos Colpin, spokesman for the Brussels public prosecutor's office, reacted to the accusations by saying: "We have said that we will not reopen the case on the basis of press reports". He refused to comment further.
The 43-year-old naturalised Austrian went missing in the early hours of Wednesday after getting into a taxi outside a hotel in the Belgian capital.
A spokesman for the local prosecutor's office said she had been found in Brussels on Friday afternoon.
Dirie's lawyer on Monday said that she was held captive for two days by the driver of a taxi she had rode in, and that the man also attempted to rape her. He released her after two days, according to the lawyer.
That account differed from an earlier version Dirie provided to authorities.
Belgian prosecutors said Saturday that she was simply lost in the city and slept in hotel lobbies because she did not have money on her to pay for a room.
She had not notified Belgian authorities of what happened because she did not want to speak about it and was in a state of shock, her representatives have said.
Dirie had been expected in Kerkrade, the Netherlands, last week to receive the Euriade Foundation prize. She was also due to take part in a conference in Brussels to mark International Women's Day.
In addition to modelling work, Dirie was known for writing four books of memoirs and she had a minor role in the 1987 James Bond movie, "The Living Daylights".