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New Democracy, SYRIZA Swap Fire Over Sex Scandals Blame

Αssociated Press

Plain-clothed policemen escort actor-director Dimitris Lignadis, center, as he arrives at a magistrate s office in Athens, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

ATHENS - The major rival SYRIZA has stepped up its assault against the New Democracy government over sexual abuse cases as social media has accused the government of not acting aggressively against pedophile cases.

Ironically, it was SYRIZA in its last days of power ahead of losing the July 7, 2019 snap elections to the Conservatives who passed a leniency law that downgraded rape to a misdemeanor before New Democracy raised to a felony.

But the case of former National Theater director Dimitris Lignadis, facing two rape charges - including one reportedly against a 14-year-old male in 2010 and now being investigated for abusing refugee minors - has given SYRIZA another chance to take shots at the government.

That comes as a #ND_pederast hashtag has appeared on social media trying to link the government to the sexual assaults scandals that has permeated the arts community after Olympic champion sailor Sofia Bekatorou came out with charges she had been raped by a sailing federation official in 1998.

That opened the dam for a growing #MeToo movement that has gotten ugly between political rivals, with a debate set for Parliament on Feb. 25 that the government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is trying to contain.

The Greek Actors Association said it has received a flood of sexual abuse complaints that it has forwarded to prosecutors looking in to the case against Lignadis that was heating up fast.

New Democracy Deputy Party spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni said SYRIZA leader and former premier, Alexis Tsipras, will be asked to clarify whether he agrees with the tone of the public debate pederast tag put on the government.

Tsipras said the main issue is not the standard of public debate, but the crime  and mistakes he said was made by the government, without mentioning his role in reducing penalties for rape.

Mitsotakis’ office denounced Tsipras and SYRIZA for “having embarked on an unprecedented campaign of vulgarity,” said Kathimerini.

“SYRIZA and Mr. Tsipras, sometimes openly and sometimes hiding behind their army of trolls on the internet, have reached the extremes of mudslinging, even talking about #ND_pederasts,” the statement read.

It also accused SYRIZA of degrading the #MeToo movement and pedophile cases – which also concern the 2017-2018 period when SYRIZA was in government.

Government sources not named told the paper that bills are being prepared to create a strict “code of conduct” to prevent any form of abuse and cultivate social coexistence and “dignity from all to all.”

The opposition also wants Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, who hired Lignadis and was accused by the Leftists and actors union of protecting him even as the case broke, to step down.

Peloni noted that Mendoni called Lignadis a “dangerous” man who “deceived” her with his acting abilities and had called for prosecutors to investigate the claims against him.