THESSALONIKI – A 24-year-old woman who said she was gang raped at a New Year’s Eve party in Thessaloniki has claimed that a lawyer representing one of the defendants pressured her to withdraw the complaint.
Prosecutors are also reportedly probing whether the lawyer – from the former ruling SYRZA party which immediately ejected him – also attempted violence against her and summoned him, said Kathimerini.
Georgia Bika identified herself in a TV interview and said the assault occurred at a luxury hotel and the case took another twin when the paper said investigators have reached Cyprus to look into whether there was pimping ring involved.
She made her accusations in a widely shared video interview in which she said the lawyer threatened her when she went to police to report rape, although the defendants haven’t been named nor the hotel.
“He was trying to shift the blame on me, saying he knew things and that things weren’t the way I had said they were,” said the woman, with media reports her drink was spiked.
SYRIZA said the lawyer was suspended until the case is resolved and said that while he has the right to represent clients that “he cannot be involved in victim blaming.”
In a statement, the lawyer denied he had come in contact with the woman at any stage and said the allegations do not reflect his “principles and ethics,” but no further details were given.
Bika said in the interview that she went to the party with a girlfriend and saw people she thought seemed uppity so they decided to sit together.
She said she had drank some champagne and her friend said they should leave but Bika said her friend had a family to return to so she decided to stay and book a room but that the three men grabbed her in an elevator, police told her later.
“Two of them were the Levendi brothers,” she said in the interview without further identification, although earlier reports said they were from the family that founded the London-based International Foundation for Greece (IFG.)
The third was said to be the son of a Piraeus ship owner named Perogiannakis, acccording to the report.
The journalist who interviewed her on Zougla.gr, Makis Triantafyllopoulos, said Bika told him she was told that her blood would be taken when she made her report but that it wasn’t and that a doctor took a sample three days later.
SOCIAL MEDIA BLOWBACK
She said she saw a prosecutor and interrogator only on Jan. 14, two weeks after the alleged incident and he questioned why police took so long and that defendants were released after being detained for three days.
Police reportedly found traces of substances that can affect the nervous system, said Mega TV, although it wasn’t said if it was a date rape drug.
Greece’s Culture Ministry reversed a decision to take a donation from the IFG after the claims from Bika the family’s sons had assaulted her.
The contribution – the amount wasn’t given – was for a new museum and other work at the Archaeological Site of Delos, said Kathimerini.
The ministry’s decision came after SYRIZA – which moved to make rape a lesser crime while ruling – said that that any links between the suspect and efforts to revamp Delos “will prompt significant developments that the Culture Minister must respond to.”
On its website, IFG President Aspasia Leventis said the organization was founded to finance and reform hospital units, buy medical equipment, acquire ambulances and provide funds for schools and other charitable organizations in Greece.
Honorary patrons include the famed musician Vangelis who composed the Chariots of Fire theme, former New Democracy Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, and French-Greek TV presenter Nikos Aliagas who appears in France.
The case reverberated on social media and on Cyprus where former European Commissioner, Androulla Vassiliou, Vice-Chairperson of the Council of the University of Cyprus, appeared to blame Bika.
Vassiliou tweeted: “And how did the 24-year-old find herself in the hotel suite? One must know all the facts before jumping to conclusions,” drawing fury from critics but her position at the university wasn’t affected.
Cyprus’ former presidential spokesman, Victoras Papadopoulos, asserted that “rape is rape” but the Cyprus Mail said a British woman who said she was gang raped on the island – and who was convicted of lying before saying it was coerced – got no such support from male politicians there.