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Greek Politicians Trade Blame Over Police Accused of Rape

The alleged rape of a 19-year-old woman by two police officers in Greece has become a cause for dispute between the governing New Democracy and opposition SYRIZA parties.

Two police officers testified on Monday on charges of gang-raping a 19-year-old woman and violating the law on personal data.

The woman, according to Ape-Mpe news agency, reported the two officers for rape at the Omonia Police Department where they had taken her.

According to the lawyer of one of the defendants, they deny the charges, citing an invitation they allegedly received from the victim.

Takis Theodorikakos, Minister of Civil Protection, told SKAI TV that the two policemen, who are currently on suspension, will be immediately fired if found guilty.

But the head of Citizens Protection for the opposition SYRIZA party, Christos Spirtzis, claimed the two defendants were among 4,500 untrained, unsuitable and in many cases dangerous policemen, who were hired by the currently governing centre-right New Democracy.

Theodorikakos answered that, “vulgarity, lies and slander, together with an allergy to the Greek Police, are characteristics of Spirtzis and SYRIZA”.

According to analysis by EU statistics body Eurostat, over 2018 to 2020, Greece was the fourth country in Europe in terms of the density of law enforcement personnel, with 525 police per 100,000 .

The absence of control over police brutality in Greece is a perennial problem. The Ministry of Civil Protection has designated the country’s Ombudsman to audit the police but has no real power over it.

In 2019, the Ministry set up an informal committee to monitor the work of the Ombudsman. The committee operated only for a limited time.

The investigative journalism group The Manifold conducted an extensive investigation into the lack of police accountability, documenting all complaints of police brutality and arbitrariness in Greece and tracking their progress through the disciplinary and judicial systems.

“The level of impunity under which the Greek police operate means that one is hard-pressed to find even one case in which officers accused of serious crimes, such as torture, maltreatment or even murder, have been punished according to the law,” said Augustine Zenakos, a journalist at The Manifold.

“Despite the problem persisting for decades to this day, no government has been proven equal to the task of holding the police to account for its all-too-frequent excessive use of violence,” he added.