Greek ex-theatre director remanded over rape allegations

4 months ago 30
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Prosecutors place Dimitris Lignadis under preventive detention after hearing his plea over child rape accusations.

Greek prosecutors have ordered a former director of the National Theatre be remanded after hearing his plea over child rape allegations, his lawyer said.

Dimitris Lignadis resigned from his post this month and turned himself in to police on Saturday after an arrest warrant was issued; lawsuits were earlier filed against him by two men who say he raped them when they were children.

The case, which follows other sexual abuse allegations in Greek cultural life and sports in recent weeks as part of a “Me Too” movement, prompted Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to announce that his government will toughen laws to combat sexual abuse and protect children.

Lignadis has denied all allegations. After hearing his plea for several hours, prosecutors decided Lignadis will be placed under preventive detention, his defence lawyer, Alexis Kougias, said.

The case “truly has no evidence”, Kougias told reporters outside a prosecutors’ office. “I am sure that in the end this person will be freed.”

Kougias has described the evidence against Lignadis as a “crude fabrication”.

Lignadis has filed for his arrest warrant to be revoked. His objection has been rejected.

Lignadis’s case has become a major political issue, with Greece’s left-wing opposition calling on culture minister Lina Mendoni to resign, accusing her of protecting Lignadis, whom she appointed as head of the National Theatre.

Main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras on Thursday told Parliament the case amounted to a “major scandal involving an attempted cover-up”, accusing the prime minister of hypocrisy and other ministers of lying to the public.

Mitsotakis, for his part, has continued to defend Mendoni. He said the opposition and supporting media were dragging public discourse through a “swamp” and spreading “poison”.

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