Red lights dim in Amsterdam brothel district

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AMSTERDAM, Sep 21 (Reuters) About a third of Amsterdam's red-lit windows for prostitutes will disappear from the city centre as one of the main brothel owners is set to sell his empire to a real estate company.

A housing company is to buy 18 premises, currently featuring 51 windows, for about 25 million euros Amsterdam city council said.

Last November, the city revoked the trading licences of 33 brothels because they were suspected of criminal activities including money laundering and drug dealing. However, the brothel owners appealed successfully against the decision.

Tourist authorities acknowledge the 700-year-old red-light district -- a maze of narrow alleys and canals lined with sex shops, prostitutes behind windows and marijuana-selling ''coffee shops'' -- is as much of a draw as other attractions such as the Van Gogh museum or the Anne Frank House.

Mayor Job Cohen said he had no plans to rid Amsterdam of prostitution but the concentration of sex in the city centre was too high.

REUTERS AK BST0441

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