Image: Waris Dirie
Peer Grimm  /  EPA
UN special envoy and ex-model Waris Dirie arrives on the red carpet at the charity gala "Cinema for Peace" in Berlin, Germany, in early February.
updated 3/9/2008 12:11:24 AM ET 2008-03-09T05:11:24

Somali-born model and former James Bond girl Waris Dirie apologized Saturday for her surprise three-day disappearance, which led to a nationwide police search for her.

Jean-Marc Meilleur, spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor's office, told reporters police had closed their investigation into her dramatic disappearance after questioning Dirie late Friday. She was found by police wandering near the city's central Grand'Place square.

"She gave little explanation. She only said that she walked around during the three days and said she was lost," Meilleur said. "She said she slept in several lobbies of hotels because she had no money to pay for a room."

In a short interview with Belgian television Dirie said she was sorry for the commotion her disappearance caused.

"I am sure you are glad to see me as I am glad to see you and I'm OK. It was just a little misunderstanding," Dirie told VTM Television.

Missed EU-hosted conference
As a U.N. goodwill ambassador, she was to have attended two high-profile conferences on Thursday alongside women leaders like U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, hosted by the European Union to mark International Women's Day. Dirie was to have spoken about her campaign to stop female genital mutilation around the world.

"I say to all the women ... I'm so sorry, I truly apologize," Dirie said.

Dirie, 43, gained international fame as a model in Chanel ads and acting in the 1987 James Bond movie "The Living Daylights" before launching her campaign against female genital mutilation in 1996.

She shocked the world with a best-selling book, "Desert Flower," that described how her genitals were sliced off with a dirty razor blade without anesthesia, and then stitched together.

Dirie was found hours after police launched a large-scale search for her. She had last been seen getting into a cab after a mix-up over a hotel in the early hours of Wednesday.

Meilleur said there was no reason to conclude any wrongdoing or foul play but however it remains unclear why Dirie vanished or what she had been up to during the three days.

"She is not a victim of violence, she is not a victim of a crime ... the case is closed," he said.

Second incident involving model
Concern over Dirie's disappearance was heightened because of the discovery last week in Paris of the body of another African-born former model who had campaigned against female genital mutilation. Guinean-born Katoucha Niane was discovered floating in the River Seine.

The French police said an autopsy showed no signs of foul play, raising the possibility that she may have fallen accidentally into the river. However, Katoucha's family filed a legal complaint Friday saying they suspected homicide.

An Austrian citizen, Dirie was attacked in her Vienna apartment in 2004 by a Portuguese handyman who had stalked her. She received minor injuries and the man, Paulo Augusto, was given a 5-month suspended sentence by an Austrian court.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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