Greek government under fire after #MeToo shock arrest

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is under growing pressure to sack Culture Minister Lina Mendoni
Last Updated 22 February 2021, 13:26 IST

Greece's conservative government on Monday vowed to promote a new ethics code as it came under flak after one of its top theatre appointees was arrested on rape allegations.

"The country needs ethics codes, a framework to prevent any form of abuse," government deputy spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni told reporters.

"The government will adopt an overall initiative in this direction," she said.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is under growing pressure to sack Culture Minister Lina Mendoni over claims of a deeply entrenched climate of fear and abuse in Greece's art establishment.

Criticism of Mendoni multiplied after Dimitris Lignadis, the former artistic director of Greece's national theatre was arrested on Saturday on allegations of raping minors.

"Greek society has watched in shock as a series of heinous acts come to the fore," Peloni said Monday.

"We listen to the victims. We support them," Peloni said, insisting that the minister would remain in her job.

The head of Greece's actors' guild, Spyros Bibilas, on Monday testified before an investigator following reports that the association had received hundreds of complaints regarding decades of alleged sex abuse, sex harassment and intimidation.

The government's special secretary for the protection of unaccompanied minors, Irene Agapidaki, on Monday also called for a full judicial probe into claims that migrant children had also been allegedly molested in 2017-2018.

Lignadis, 56, resigned on February 6 citing a "toxic climate of rumours, innuendo and leaks".

He has strongly denied being at the centre of numerous allegations of sexual abuse of minors, reported in Greek media.

He is in police custody and is expected to testify on Wednesday.

The main opposition leftist Syriza party has accused the conservative government of trying to cover up the case, claiming that Lignadis is a personal friend of Mitsotakis.

The prime minister's office has denied this.

More than three years after the #MeToo movement surfaced in the United States, the code of silence in Greece was broken last year by a two-time Olympic sailing medallist, Sofia Bekatorou.

Bekatorou in December said she was 21 when she was subjected to "sexual harassment and abuse" by a senior federation member in his hotel room, shortly after trials for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

The statute of limitations on many of the complaints has lapsed, meaning they cannot be prosecuted.

(Published 22 February 2021, 13:26 IST)

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