Sunday, January 8, 2012

Update on the Trial

Because of a lawyers' strike and a general strike, the hearing of the case scheduled for October 19, 2011 has been postponed until June 15, 2012.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Due to a lawyers' strike, the trial has been postponed, again, until October 18th, 2011.

There is nothing to say that hasn't already been said, except maybe what's below. A few months ago, before this postponement, a man named Nikolaos G. Lykomitros heard about this story, and wrote a poem. I'm so touched by his words and, now, his friendship and support in this case. Thank you, Nick.

(English translation below.)


Περιπλανιέσαι στους αρχαιολογικούς χώρους
με εκείνη τη χαρακτηριστική ανεμελιά των επισκεπτών.
Μυρίζεις τον αέρα και προσπαθείς
να αναπαραστήσεις στο μυαλό σου
την ατμόσφαιρα εκείνων των ημερών.
Ένας άγνωστος προσφέρεται να σε ξεναγήσει.
Δέχεσαι· γιατί, όχι, άλλωστε;
Μοιράζεσαι μαζί του το φαγητό
και τον ακολουθείς στα δρομάκια της πόλης...
Ξυπνάς σε ένα άδειο κρεβάτι.
Ζαλίζεσαι. Δεν ξέρεις που βρίσκεσαι.
Είσαι παραβιασμένη...
Αυτό είναι! Stilnox!

Κι εκείνος κυκλοφορεί ακόμα ελεύθερος.
Μέχρι την επόμενη φορά
και την επόμενη αναβολή της δίκης.

Η Δικαιοσύνη είναι τυφλή!
Η Δικαιοσύνη είναι τυφλή!
Ίσως να της έδωσαν Stilnox.
Αυτό θα ήταν μια κάποια εξήγηση.


You wander in the archaeological sites
with that characteristic insouciance of visitors.
You smell the air and you try
to recreate the atmosphere of those days in your mind.
A stranger offers to show you around.
You accept; Why shouldn’t you?
You share food with him and you follow him
in the alleys of the city...

You wake up in an empty bed.
You are dizzy. You do not know where you are.
You have been violated...
That’s it! Stilnox!

And he still walks free.
Until the next time
and the next postponement of the trial.

Justice is blind!
Justice is blind!
Perhaps she has been Stilnoxed too.
That would be some sort of an explanation.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Translated article from To Vima, January 9, 2011

“Greece let my rapist walk free”

Canadian journalist Natalie Karneef, five and a half years after her rape in Athens, talks about her fight for justice

By Elli Ismailidou, Athens, Sunday, January 9th, 2011

She woke up in a hotel room with a bad headache, with a strange man next to her. Her head felt heavy and the dizziness did not allow her to collect her thoughts. What had happened? It was the afternoon of August 29th, 2005 and a stranger had raped the Canadian journalist who was at that time traveling alone in our country. He had drugged her using a strong tranquilizer, carried her to his hotel and raped her. When she woke up, he escorted her to the hostel where she was staying and he disappeared.

It took her few hours to realize what had happened and few months to find out that three more female tourists had reported being raped in the same way, from the same man. What she certainly could not imagine was that the Greek Justice system would delay for years the trial. Five and a half years after her rape, after six trial postponements, expenses of thousands of Euros, and while the accused (and convicted for first degree rape for five years in prison for one of the rapes) walks a free man, Natalie Karneef talks to “BHMA” about the fight which she refuses to give up, looking ahead to the 26th of January, when the seventh trial, “might finally bring justice” as she says.

“By hiding a rape, you become a victim forever” is the first sentence that appears on the blog of Ms. Karneef which she maintains aiming to inform the public about the rape cases of her and three other tourists (one Danish woman and two Australian) in Athens. As time went by, this sentence became a life philosophy for the 33 year old journalist and writer; therefore she does not hesitate to talk in every detail about everything that took place in August 2005. “I was travelling alone in Greece and that noon I was walking in Plaka. An unknown man approached me, asked me if I needed directions and offered to show me around Acropolis. It was noon, with the area of Plaka full of people. There was no reason for me to worry. So I accepted,” says Ms. Karneef. She found it strange that the man suggested repeatedly that she could eat something, but she did not pay attention. Finally he entered a shop and returned with a pastry cut into two pieces, offering her persistently the one piece. “He was also eating it so I did not think there could be danger. I remember the taste was unpleasant, bitter. But I had burned my lips and thought that the bitter taste was coming from the medication I had put on the wound” she adds.

Her adventure at the hospitals

In reality the bitter taste was coming from “Stilnox” a powerful tranquilizer which contains the substance Zolpidem Hemitartrate and causes a condition of heavy drunkenness, or even deep sleep. When she woke up from the lethargy, Ms. Karneef had to go to three different hospitals to diagnose her condition, because the doctors were declaring to be unauthorized since they had no medical examiner. “Finally we found a medical examiner the next day, who still did not write up a report. But he did so in 2010! How could it be that he remembers his findings after five years?” she wonders. However, this was not the only breach of protocol of the Greek authorities, according to the Canadian journalist. In reality, with the procedure that was followed, it would be impossible to find the rapist, if the Danish tourist had not reported a new rape (the fourth in a series). Then, thanks to testimonies, the accused was arrested and the case of serial rapes was brought to justice.

A court marathon

The next five years have been a continuous hardship for Ms. Karneef with six trial attempts and six postponements. Thousands of Euros wasted in plane tickets, the value of which was never reimbursed by the Greek State. The only bright moment in this five year marathon was the conviction of the accused in 2007 for the rape of the Danish tourist, who, however, after a suspended sentence, was released a free man and is waiting for the hearing of the appeal. At the same time, in July of 2007, by fault of the Greek authorities, Ms. Karneef was not subpoenaed on time and could not appear in court. As a result, she was convicted for defaulting witnesses and until today the court refuses to annul the conviction. “Can you imagine that I might be arrested next time I visit Greece?” she says jokingly, but turns into serious right away: “My goal is not vengeance. I do not believe in “an eye for an eye”. I want to protect all those women who are in danger of becoming victims like myself, when the rapist is still at large. Even if one woman is saved, to me that will be a gain,” she emphasizes.

Asking her if even in the sound of the name “Greece” she shivers, Ms. Karneef is firm. “I am married to a Greek-Canadian and I have managed to see the positive aspects of your country, without generalizing the negatives. Quite often, even I feel more like a Greek rather than a Canadian with regard to certain issues. But when it comes to the justice system, my opinion is crystal clear: “Greek Justice” is an oxymoron,” she adds.

Appeal to the European court

Seeing her case in a stagnant state with the Greek justice system, Ms. Karneef decided to appeal against Greece in the European Court of Human Rights, with the legal aid of The Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM). Talking to “BHMA”, the representative of GHM Mr. Panayotis Dimitras explains that the European Court has repeatedly concluded that the excessive and unjustified delay in serving justice equals violation of the right to a fair trial, as is guaranteed by the European Constitution of Human Rights. Therefore, we are almost certain that in the case of Ms. Karneef we can get the conviction of Greece.

Article in To Vima, January 9, 2011

Click here for the article that appeared in To Vima on Sunday, January 9th, 2011. Translation to follow.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


This has been scanned the article from Veto, published in Greece on April 3, 2010.

PLEASE forward this to anyone you know living in, or traveling to, Athens.

Please tell them:


Monday, April 12, 2010

Translation of VETO article

For 33 year old Natalie Karneef, a writer and associate of Canadian radio station CBC, a trip from the opposite side of the Atlantic to our country was not so pleasant. As soon as she stepped foot in El. Venizelos Airport in Athens, dark memories from the summer of 2005 filled her mind.

It was then that a walk around the tiny alleyways of Plaka turned ugly, thanks to Emanouel Aristovoulos, who showed Natalie his own kind of Greek hospitality. The 54-year old offered Natalie a tour around the Acropolis and what happened next could very easily be part of a blockbuster crime movie: first a little chat about this and that, then hidden sleeping pills inside her food... then dizziness... a hotel.. and rape.

According to the courts, that same summer, Aristovoulos used the exact same method on three other victims: two from Australia and one from Denmark.

Last Monday morning Nathalie buried all her fears about once again confronting the man who stigmatized her and, with the support of Panayote Dimitras from the Greek department of the Helsinski Monitor for Human Violations and lawyer Thanasis Tartis, she appeared in the Athens court where the trial woul take place. Still, her desire to tell the court what happened in her own words was left unfulfilled. The lawyer of the accused. Ms. Zoe Konstantopoulou, claimed that because of her need to attend another case, the trial should be postponed. Ms. Konstantopoulou is part of the Aleksis Grigoropoulos case which takes place in Amfissa. The court postponed the trial once again (for the sixth time!) and sent Natalie back to Canada without showing the least sympathy for her struggle for justice. The Canadian writer will attend the rescheduled trial in January 2011.

Natalie talks to VETO

"Both myself and Dana, the other victim who attended this "procedure", feel devastated. I feel angry and deceived. I cannot believe that I went through all this trouble for nothing."

I met her on her birthday. She is 33 years old today, but instead of giving me cake, she offers me food for thought. Food for thought that left me troubled... about her experiences with the whole Greek justice system and how they treated her, from the first cop to even the judges... troubled about why the accused has only gone through one trial.

How did you meet the accused?

I was on a long trip through Europe and I visited Greece as a part of that trip. One morning I was strolling around the Plaka in downtown Athens when a man approached me and asked something I don't recall. When he realized I was not Greek he offered to take me on a tour of the area. He claimed he had good knowledge of Athens and history. He claimed that he was a pilot for Air France and that he was living in Paris.

And then?

I went with him to the ancient theatre of Dionysus. He began insisting that I have some food, and, finally, I agreed. He went off and returned holding a cheesepie cut in two. I didn't feel threatened so I ate the food. After, he took me somewhere close to the Acropolis. Then we went to a bar [note: by this time I was no longer fully conscious of what was happening] where I had a colourless drink. The next thing I remember is waking up in a strange room. I was so dizzy that I couldn't even see straight. Everything was blurry, like a dream... I remember sitting inside a cab and finally, I remember waking up in my hostel room. It was then when I realized that this man had used me in order to have sex with me without my consent.

I assume you went staraight to the police...

I went to the Neos Kosmos police station first, but they told me there was nothing they could do! Then I went to the Acropoleos station. They asked me a bunch of questions: what happened? What did the man look like? They took me to 3 different hospitals to get examined. All 3 refused to examine me.


They said they had no forensic doctor present at the time. They were not rude or anything, but I simply cannot believe that the accused has commited 3 other rapes and victims cannot see justice because Greek hospitals don't have the right personnel or anyone in charge to take matters into their own hands. They told me to go back to my room and NOT to shower until the next day. It was the worst night of my life. The next morning, the police took me to see the forensic doctor.

How hard is it for you to forget that day?

I will never forget it. I feel weird when I see men that have the same age or characteristics as the accused. I feel fear whenever I'm in Greece alone. What makes it even harder is that my husband is Greek and we come here often.

Tell us your feelings about the fact that the man who raped you is still walking free.

It's ridiculous. A country cannot or won't throw in jail a man who was convicted once for rape and accused another three times!! That summer he was charged in the rape of four women. All his victims strongly believe that there other women who were attacked by the same person out there but they are simply too scared to come forward.

What are your thoughts on the Greek justice system? I sense many of them aren't positive.

Since Day One, the way my case was handled has been ridiculous. First of all, the accused has been on trial only for 1 out of 4 cases-the rape of a woman back in 2007 - because the courts subpoenaed the rest of us at the addresses of the hotels we were staying at when we were visiting Athens. Then, when they decided that they would subpoena me in my country, they broke their own law about allowing 60 days notice before a trial and sent the subpoena too late. The result was that I was convicted for missing my own trial in 2007. And last Monday, the court refused to drop my fine.

The trial was postponed again the trial because the accused man's lawyer claimed she had to attend a serious case outside Athens during that same period - a case she had taken on just a week ago. And even if that hadn't happened the trial would still get another date since the court translator, despite being officially notified of the trial by the court, was absent. All this is disgusting. It's a shame, a circus! It is something no one would expect from a country that is a member of the European Union.

My last question: how is your life today? What is your message to all other rape victims?

My life is good. I feel lucky. I reminding myself: that day could very easily have been my last. Or, I could have been infected with AIDS. I am married to a fantastic person and I live in a fantastic country. But the case still weighs on my mind even today, 5 later. Now, I have to come back to Greece in January. Lord knows how many more times I will have to travel and face the pathetic Greek justice system. As for other rape victims... I strongly believe that all victims should try to find the courage to come forward with their stories. It's not shameful. Being raped is never the woman's fault.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Translation of Ta Nea Article

My deepest thanks to everyone who sent or offered to send a translation of this article.

An interview to Stavros Theodorakis

Published Saturday March 27, 2010

She agreed to meet with me under one condition: that I pick her up from the metro station. We could have a cup of coffee and discuss whatever I wanted, but after that I was to return her back to the metro station. She did not want to walk by herself on the streets of Athens.

As I waited for her at the exit of the Megaro Mousikis metro station, I wondered how it was possible for a woman to be so scared. I had read her whole story in the papers: she was a tourist in Athens in 2005. At the Acropolis she was drugged and then raped. The police mishandled it, the trial still has not taken place.

On her blog, Natalie announced that she was returning to Athens, in an ultimate effort to put her rapist in trial. Men and women from Montreal have sent her messages of moral support and are writing harsh comments with respect to the Greek Justice system. Everybody knows that her effort to bring her rapist to justice started in August 2005. A picture on her blog has a message for all men: “Real men don't rape”. It is written in red ink on the belly of a half-naked woman.

The day of our meeting is Natalie's 33rd birthday. She is wearing a light dress and sandals, of course – Canadians are always warm in our city, even in March – and carries two bags. One holds the paperwork of her case. She has a hesitant smile, until we reach the coffee place. Her look is investigative. She is a journalist herself, at CBC radio. She's also writing a book. "About the whole trip I took, not just what happened to me here," she clarifies. She is surprised by my interest on her adventure.

Do you feel uncomfortable talking about that day?
Not at all. You may ask me whatever you like.

Could you talk about it at any time? Even from the first day?
At any time, but maybe I was a little hesitant at first.

So, what happened?
I was traveling: a trip around Europe that lasted one year. One of my stops was in Greece.

I was not alone. I made friends at every stop.

And what happened in Athens?
I met a man during one of my walking tours around the city . He asked me something … I do not know exactly what. As if he were looking for a street. When he realized I was not Greek, he offered to guide me a little around the city.

Natalie Karneef (left) in summer of 2005 with a friend in Athens. The trip changed her life.

Did you trust him?
I was not suspicious. There was no reason to be. It was going to be a small tour around the Acropolis, in public. He was around 45 years old, neither attractive, nor unattractive. A regular man - at least that’s what he looked like.

How did you get from the Acropolis to the hotel?
At some point he said he was hungry. He bought a cheese pastry snack. [Tiropita.] I saw him enter a snack store [note: this is incorrect - I didn't see him enter, the shop where he bought the pie from was not within sight] and when he returned he offered me half of it. When someone shares the food he is eating, there is no reason to worry!

So you ate it without understanding anything?
It was a little bitter but I did not pay attention. Afterwards, I started feeling foggy. My head was heavy, but my body wasn't. I could walk normally, but my head continued to get foggier. The next thing I remember, I woke up on a hotel bed with this man next to me. I can only remember that as an image. I could not react. My head was still feeling very foggy. We left the room and he took me to the hostel where I was staying, probably by taxi. The images are confused in my head. I remember a friend of mine in the hostel being worried. When I recovered, I realized I had been raped.

When did you go to the police?
Right away. In the first police station, they basically told me that they could not do anything. I insisted, and went to a second police station. Eventually they told me to go to a hospital. I visited three hospitals so they could be certain I was raped and to find out which drug substance I had been given. [note: this is incorrect. I visited three hospitals because none would examine me, each claiming not to have a forensic doctor on staff.] I felt very uncomfortable going from one doctor to another, repeating the same story.

Didn’t the doctors support you and advise you of what you should do?
Not at all. I visited one private doctor from the UK later on. He told me to take the morning after pill and how long I should wait before being tested for STDs.

What had he put in the cheese pastry snack?
A very strong sleeping drug, Stillnox. He had used the same substance to drug the other young women too. That is how he became known to the police - as "the cheese pie rapist".

Did you file a complaint before you left?
Yes, I left. But I was in constant contact to find out if they had captured him. [note: I wasn't in contact. I learned he'd been captured when a friend in Montreal saw an article off the Canadian wire.] Finally I found out that he was arrested for raping a Danish young woman. He was convicted, stayed in prison for a short while, and then he was released. [note: we have since learned that the accused has served no prison time.]

Tell me about your own adventure in the court.
I was not even notified about the first two trials. The third time I was subpoenaed was past the point they were legally supposed to subpoena me. I could not make the trip and I was fined 220 Euros. A strike of the court employees and a sickness of the accused followed, and here we are today with another postponement - the sixth.

What happened this week?
The trial was postponed for January 2011. The defendant’s lawyer claimed she is busy with another trial outside Athens - a case she took on only last week. I told them that I had traveled from Canada, but they already knew that. I asked them if they could have a break and have the trial the following week. No result. [note: I never asked this as the trial was officially postponed and neither Dana nor I were allowed to make any sort of statement in court.]

Were you disappointed?
Well, the court did everything possible to avoid having a trial. Even if the defendant’s side did not ask for a postponement, the case could not proceed, because the official interpreter was absent!

Did the defendant come to court?
Yes. He appeared self-assured, as if he were certain that nothing could happen to him. He didn't show remorse... he walked around the courtroom as if he owned the place.

Will you feel better if he is imprisoned?
I do not believe “an eye for an eye” always works. But I believe we should not allow him to do the same thing to other women that he did to me.

In how many rape cases is he involved?
Besides mine, he has done the same to two young women: one from Australia and one from Denmark. [note: there is another Australian victim who has chosen not to come forward.] But to be honest, I believe there have been more. There have to have been more. They are simply afraid to talk or have been disappointed by the authorities and did not wish to continue. This is the reason I talk about my adventure: to instigate women to talk.

Will you be present in the following trial, in 2011?
Definitely. Even though I had told my husband that, if there were no trial this time, I would put all of this behind me and never deal with it again. But I cannot do that. I will keep insisting until he faces the court. But I've never wanted anything to be over in my life more than this.

Have you found supporters in your adventure?
Many. But not from the Justice system. In the court room I was feeling that everybody was looking at me with hostility. Aside from Panagiotis Dimitras and Nafsika Papanikolaou from the Greek Helsinki Monitor, who were by my side and made me feel secure, I have a bad opinion about your courts. Greek justice to me is an absolute oxymoron.

Will you keep coming to Greece for vacation?
Of course. I am married to a Greek-Canadian from Nafpaktos! I never said that all Greek men are bad.

When did you meet your husband?
A long time ago. [note: not that long!] When this happened to me, I thought, "I know a good Greek who could help me with all this bureaucracy."

Does he speak Greek?

All Canadian Greeks speak Greek! They speak Greek, cook Greek, and live as Greeks even though many of them have no contact with Greeks from Greece. In Canada we say that for Greeks the time stopped in 1957! [note (esp. to all Greeks): I didn't say it quite like this and certainly meant no offense by saying this!]

Are you afraid to walk in Athens?
Yes. I do not like walking by myself in Athens. I cannot tell you exactly what I am afraid of, but I am afraid. I know that the odds of something similar happening to me again are very slim. But then I think: this man is walking free. What if I see him? How will I react?


The rapist hides behind postponements

The man accused for repeatedly raping the Canadian Natalie Karneef is also accused for raping two Australian women.

In 2005, the police arrested the man (whose initials are E.A.) with the help of a fourth victim from Denmark. He was sentenced then to five years in prison for raping the Danish tourist, but was released from prison after approximately 18 months. [note: again, as far as I am aware, he never served any prison time.]

For the first two trials (in 2006 and 2007) the victims were subpoenaed at the addresses of the hotels where they were staying as tourists in 2005! For the third time, the Justice notified the victims in their countries but past due time! In 2008 the victims were finally notified properly, but the trial was canceled due to a strike of the court employees.

The next trial was set for 2009, but the defendant became sick and the trial was postponed for March 22, 2010.

The Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) who provides legal assistance to Natalie Karneef free of charge, believes that from 2005 until today the Justice system took actions and made decisions that “facilitated” in a consistent way a person accused for repeated rapes.

The GHM also denounces the absence of an interpreter for the second trial in a row, something that, in a way, ensured that it was impossible to proceed with the trial.
The court did not in any way punish the interpreter who was absent, even though he was officially requested by the District Attorney’s office (the same had happened during the trial in 2009). At the same time, the court ignored Natalie Karneef’s request to recall her conviction for having been absent during the trial set in 2007, even though it was obvious from the documents that she had not been notified properly in Canada. The GHM also denounces the Medical Examiner for not having filed a report after examining Natalie Karneef in 2005, and asks the indictment against police officers, court judges and District Attorneys, who tolerated for years the absence of the report from the legal brief.

For all these, GHM will turn to the European Court of Human Rights, and seek a conviction of Greece for not properly serving justice.