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Rhodes Student's Rape, Murder: Where's the Outrage?

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Protesters outside the court. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Yiannis Panagopoulos)

In the days and weeks after the savage rape and murder of 21-year-old university student Eleni Topaloudi on Rhodes in November, 2018, her picture was plastered all over the news, sometimes juxtaposed next to those of the two accused who now have been found guilty of what a prosecutor called a slaughter.

She's smiling in a separate picture, sweet and happy, her name known to all as the victim of a sex crime, for which unfortunate women who've suffered but survived properly have their name protected.

Not for the dead though, and her name is now well known while the faces of the men who killed her, before their conviction are blotted out and their names not released. This was done to protect their privacy but even after they were sentenced to life in jail plus 15 years, the major media in Greece still didn't use their names although those of the 10 politicians falsely accused of taking bribes from the Swiss pharmaceutical company, without a shred of evidence, were everyday fodder in the news.

Even worse, she was relegated to a few paragraphs in the onslaught of news about the COVID-19 pandemic. In a world where people were worried whether they or their loved ones would die from a cough or sneeze, there was little compassion left.

Sex crimes are among the most reprehensible, and women should be protected and supported in every way because they are otherwise defenseless and the perpetrators should be punished in an exemplary way.

It's a tightrope for the media too because there have been cases of men falsely accused – who've lost their jobs, families, homes because their names were known while that of the false accuser was withheld – as the victim of a sex crime that never happened.

So upside down is the world that there's little wiggle room even to properly discuss how to handle this in the media.

A British teenager convicted earlier this year of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus in 2019 was handed a four-month suspended sentence but her name still widely kept secret although, technically speaking, she was not a victim.

She has appealed after saying a confession was coerced aggressively by police who didn't believe 12 Israeli young men had raped her in a hotel room, later telling the British newspaper The Guardian she had nightmares about “being raped again” every night while in prison.

There's really no right way to report that story without facing accusations from every direction about insensitivity, but there was in the killing of Eleni Topaloudi. The photos and names of the accused should have been shown from day one, and especially now.

Also on Cyprus last year, Nicos Metaxas, an Army Captain – before being convicted – was identified and his photo shown after being accused of the murders of five foreign women and two of their children, as he should have been.

So why now is the media not revealing the names and faces of the sub-human troglodytes who killed her, one of them facing another trial on charges of raping a young disabled woman?

Kathimerini reported the court finding was unanimous after prosecutor Aristotelia Doga had rejected the defense's proposal to consider mitigating factors and called for the same sentence for the two defendants – a 23-year-old Greek man and a 21-year-old Albanian. If the paper had a reporter in the courtroom, the names should be written.

Doga said neither expressed remorse, accusing them of “moral perversion,” and saying they did not deserve any leniency after testimony the woman was raped, hit in the face with an iron, thrown naked into a car, taken to the beach and thrown alive into the sea.

Her last words were, “My dad will come after you both.”

The summer of 2019 for Cyprus and Greece was like The Summer of Sam, 1977 in New York, with the serial killer David Berkowitz running amok and setting off fear like firecrackers with a short fuse.

On Crete in July last year, prominent scientist biologist Suzanne Eaton was found dead from asphyxiation and had been raped, officials said. The suspect was named: Ioannis Paraskakis, the son of a priest. He admitted to raping Eaton after hitting her twice with his car and then disposing of her in a former German WWII bunker near the port of Hania.

Sadly, these stories never change but repeat themselves because that's how some of the inhuman race is: savage and cruel and sadistic.

Or, like the President of the United States, who said women will do anything you want if you are celebrity. You can grab them by the p—sy, and his idolators lap it up, as long as it's not their wives or daughters, although some of them wouldn't mind as long as it appeases their god.

To her killers, Eleni Topaloudi was a disposable object in a game authorities said involves sexually assaulting women and posting their bold exploits on the Internet, trying to show conquests when what they really revealed was their pathetic shortcomings and bestial cruelty.

This is an evil that should have a name. Theirs.

Eleni will never have a family or a life or dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free, in Bob Dylan's immortal words, but she deserves to be remembered and there won't be true justice unless her killers are tossed into the sea.