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We Want Names for These Kinds of Crimes in Greece

February 19, 2022

Attention all Greeks. Be on the lookout for a man accused of sexual crimes and robberies who was detained and then released but we can’t name because of privacy laws. Just suspect everyone around you.

We can’t give his description either because that would be profiling and prejudicial, nor any details unless he’s caught and convicted – and even then maybe not.

You can’t make this stuff up, even in Greece, where even if you do the crime you don’t have to do the time, and can buy out your sentence for as little as 5 euros ($5.67) to escape the hoosegow, especially if you’re a rich embezzler – who can be named because it’s political and just fun to bandy it about.

It can be a tough balance between the public’s right to know and a defendant’s right to not have his or her identity known, because even if they are acquitted later it can be too late to restore a ruined reputation.

“What court do I go to to get my good name back?” That’s what a wrongly-accused person can feel if their name has been dragged through the mud in public, some losing spouses, friends, and their jobs.

In Greece, the identity of a suspect is generally protected – but not always – as in the case of former National Theater Director Dimitris Lignadis, who is in pre-trial detention on charges of raping two boys who were then minors, and an adult.

His lawyer Alexis Kougias said his client “has his obsessions, but he was never a rapist.” Maybe not, maybe so, and that’s for a trial to decide, but his name has been out there, as well as his face in photos and videos in police custody.

But we don’t know the names of seven people arrested over the deaths of 30 residents at a nursing home on Crete who were identified only as the owner, his daughter, two doctors three nurses and administrative staff.

Why not? Shouldn’t it be public knowledge in a case, overriding privacy because it could lead to other victims or families coming forth? They are accused of running a criminal organization – organized crime.

That includes accusations residents were abused, not fed, their clothes not cleaned, their homes robbed and forced to wear used diapers, said Kathimerini and Cretapost.

A Greek TV comedian was given a suspended prison sentence  after being convicted of posting on the Internet sex videos of his former partner without her consent, a case that prompted a public debate on online privacy abuses.

Greek media identified him as Stathis Panagiotopoulos, a member of the popular Radio Arvyla (Unconfirmed Rumors) show. Panagiotopoulos was fired after a former partner alleged that he had posted online, without her consent, videos of them having sex.

He was convicted of breaches of Greek privacy laws, which happens often in the media when it comes to celebrities and politicians, including 10 whose parties were rivals of the then-ruling Radical Left SYRIZA and accused of taking bribes from the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis.

Their names were released: including former premier Antonis Samaras, Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras and former PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos. No scandal has been proven and no one prosecuted for making false statements against them.

But in Thessaloniki a 39-year-old man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for raping and robbing three sex workers in March 2021, while pretending to be a police officer, which he, of course denied.

According to the indictment, the crimes took place just one month after his release from prison where he served 15 years for the murder of a 58-year-old psychiatrist, who was the former partner of his Cuban then-fiancée. The psychiatrist had been stabbed to death several times and found in a pool of blood next to his parked car.

The court had convicted him and his then-fiancée to life in prison, but a higher court reduced the sentence, accepting their previously clean criminal record. He hadn’t killed anyone before so that’s a good reason for leniency. What’s his name? You won’t find it in media reports without looking high and low.

A Greek mother and her Polish former partner were charged with manslaughter – not murder – in the killing of her 7-year-old son in 2017, who suffocated from having duct tape covering his mouth and nose before he was buried in cement on an apartment building roof while his mother was said to have later played video games.

The case broke open in November 2017 when police got a tip and found a toolbox containing two bags of human bones in the apartment shared by the boy’s mother, 29, and partner, 33, who was not the child’s father, said state-run ERT TV.

What are their names? Doesn’t the public have the right to know?

Also in Thessaloniki, AKA Hooligan City, a 19-year-old student, Alkis Kambanos, was murdered when stabbed in the leg and bleeding out in an attack by at least 10 men because he was a fan of the Aris soccer team, not their beloved PAOK.

We know his name but not of the 11 people arrested? Why not?

There are cases where the public’s right to know supercedes privacy, but what court do we go to to get their names? We want to know.

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