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.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Facebook Group

Please join our Facebook group for updates and discussions on the case.


A translation of the Ta Nea article, as well as the article that appeared in Eleftherotypia, will be posted shortly. Giant, enormous thanks to all who offered their help, and for every letter of support that has poured in over the last week.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ta Nea

Today's piece in Ta Nea.

I tried to run it through Google translate but let's just say a lot of meaning was lost. If anyone at all is willing to translate it to English, I'd be so grateful. Drop me a line at and I will get back to you.

Peace from Switzerland.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Out of Here

My travel agent, God bless her, got me a flight to Zurich tomorrow. I'll be flying back to Montreal on Friday, April 2nd. More updates as things change/progress with the trial. Thank you, once again, for your support.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Air Unfair, or, "We can't allow this."

This doesn't directly have anything to do with the case. I just need to share the kind of bullshit, pardon my French, that comes with being summoned to Greece for a trial.

As instructed by the Greek courts, I bought a changeable, economy ticket. I chose a random return date of April 3rd, assuming, as I had been warned repeatedly, that the trial would last longer than that, but knowing that it if didn't, I could change my flight. However, it seems all seats in my class between now and April 3rd have been booked, and if I change it, it's going to cost me a mint.

Of course this wouldn't be a problem if the ticket was going to be reimbursed anytime soon. But according to Dana, the first time she traveled here it took a year before she was paid back. I even offered to not use the first part of the ticket, fly to Switzerland (my stopover) on my own dime, and then stay there until April 3rd and fly home as scheduled on the 2nd half of the ticket. I explained to the woman at the SwissAir office in Athens, bawling, that I was here because of a trial against the man who raped me, and could I please, please just catch my flight in Zurich.

"No," she snapped. "We can't allow this."

It's infuriating. I just want to go home, and I can't. And I hate that no one, not the Greek government, not even SwissAir who I always loved for handing out little cups of Haagen Dazs on a flight I took years ago, can do anything.

Sorry, SwissAir. But that was uncalled for.


One of the most haunting experiences of this trip was meeting Dana.

This was Dana's third time coming to Athens for this trial. Even though I went through official channels to inform the Greek government I wouldn't be attending the 2007 trial, no one told Dana, and she came. In 2009, when her embassy was told that I wouldn't be present, they didn't pass on the message, and she showed up once again. It eases my conscience a bit to know that the 2009 trial wasn't postponed due to my absence, but the defendant's, who was supposedly "too ill" that day to come to court.

But I never heard her story, as told by her, until this past Sunday. Sitting in the lawyer's office, listening to the translation of the statement she gave the police (and her corrections of it, as neither of our statements were recorded as we told them,) was insanely difficult. It so closely mirrored my own, yet also had its own, unique set of horrendous side stories.

But as twisted as it sounds, one of my greatest comforts in all of this was knowing that Dana is fighting the same fight.

Below, Dana's official statement.

"I am extremely disappointed and frustrated by yesterday's outcome. I feel that I have done everything that the Court has asked of me. Having been summoned to attend on four occasions [this includes the 2008 trial which was canceled due to a strike] and making arrangements on all of those four occasions, I have yet again been turned away without ANY progress in the case. In deferring our case because the defense lawyer has made a commitment to another case, no matter how significant, means that the Court prioritizes her time and commitments over my own and Natalie's.

It is not easy for us to attend and we also have commitments, including work commitments, which we forgo in order that we can attend. I feel that the defense lawyer has committed to a work load that she is not able to effectively manage and the Court's decision yesterday suggest that it supports that. Recognizing that the decision made yesterday cannot be reversed, I expect that when I attend once again in January 2011, that the Court will hear the case efficiently, effectively and to its conclusion."

I couldn't have said it better. Dana, thank you with everything I've got for being a part of this. Together we're greater than the sum of our parts. I have so much respect for you and the perseverance with which you've handled all of this. I know that with both of us on board, we're going to come out victorious.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Greek Media

Friends in Greece (and friends elsewhere who can read Greek):

My story as told by Petros Kousoulos will be in the VETO newspaper this weekend.

Also, I did an interview with Stavros Theodorakis today for this Saturday's Ta Nea.

Finally, a shout-out to Bollybutton for sharing the story on her blog.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Interview on CBC radio in Montreal

Here's the interview I did on Homerun after the trial was postponed:

Just go to Monday, March 22nd and click on the first interview.

The End of the Beginning

Despite my warm and fuzzy thoughts of yesterday, I wasn't expecting miracles today. Hoping maybe, but not expecting. But not once did I expect that this trial would be postponed, again, this time until 2011.

This happened for several reasons, none of which would ever have flown in a proper court of law. Firstly, the defendant's lawyer claimed she was busy with another case. Which is fine in theory, except it's a case she picked up last week. Knowing full well, of course, what was on her agenda today.

When she asked for the postponement for this reason, our awesome, chain-cigar-smoking lawyer asked for a continuance instead, which meant we would have resumed after the Easter holidays, as I'd expected. The judge said no. And wham, January 2011 it was - for two rapes that happened in 2005.

And a convicted serial rapist strolled out of the courtroom and into downtown Athens.

The thing is, even if neither postponement nor continuance were granted, we still couldn't have gone ahead with the case today. Why? Because an interpreter, required to be present by law, was absent. He missed the last trial, too. (Which got postponed for other, equally stupid reasons.) Legally, he should have been convicted for this. It's a requirement of the court to have an interpreter, and if the one they asked for isn't available, it's their duty to find another one. In other words, the court did their absolute best for this trial not to happen.

Meanwhile, while the interpreter does whatever he does on his days off, this convict - yes, that's me - will remain as such in the eyes of the Greek law. After failing to appear at the July 2007 trial, despite giving an official reason through the Canadian Department of Justice, I was not just fined but CONVICTED. The courts refuse to drop this charge until the end of the trial, which at this rate could be by the time I'm 85 or so.

Needless to say, the other victim and I are devastated. I think I'm still in shock, actually. None of this has computed, because if it had, I think I'd be hiding under a blanket in the dark, rather than writing this. It's survival mode I guess, which may be the same thing that kept me from sporting a sign today while awaiting cousin Tony in a public square, which would have read, "DON'T LOOK AT ME, DON'T TALK TO ME AND GOD HELP YOU DON'T TOUCH ME."

It's hard to accept that most people have no idea what it feels like, being in this city, especially on my own. But I think I'm starting to understand something: why would they? Unless it happened to you, or someone you really care about, you don't know.

But it happened to me. And today, I had to see the disgusting excuse of a man who did it smarming his way around the courtroom as if he owned the place, while his lawyer argued that it was an inconvenience to HER to continue this trial in the next nine months.

I had thought, told myself, that if this wasn't over in a month, it was over for me. But now I know that's not the case. I knew this was bigger than our trial, but I had no idea how much bigger. In the next nine months, we have to do everything possible to make as many people as possible aware of how pathetically the Athenian courts have dealt with this trial. Maybe we should make t-shirts. They could read:


That's all for now.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Team

Today was the pre-trial meeting.

My cousin-in-law, also named Tony (think the "Nick, Nick and Nick" scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding,) drove me to Halkida, which meant what should have been an hour-long drive took approximately 5 minutes. His wife, Sofia, cheerfully came along. I met meet Panayote Dimitras and Nafsika Papanikolatou of the Greek-Helsinki Monitor, who have been instrumental - crucial - in helping me and the Australian victim in moving forward with this case. And I met the amazing criminal lawyer they found for us. (He chain-cigar-smoked the entire time and growled a lot. I like him.)

We went through everything that will happen at the trial. Then we went through the circumstances around the trial - which, to be honest, are what I find most stressful at the moment. (Put it this way: it's highly unlikely anything will be resolved tomorrow.) Then, like good Greeks, we went for lunch.

I'll wait until tomorrow, when we'll know a lot more, to go into detail. I'll just say that, on the drive back home, I felt amazingly at peace. Meeting the people helping us out in this case, and seeing their passion and the attention they've given it in the flesh, I am confident that we have the best chance possible for a positive outcome. My cousins stayed in the next room for the entire meeting. ("We didn't want to leave you alone," Sofia said, shrugging. "You're our responsibility.") You'd be hard-pressed to be in better hands than I am in at the moment.

Still, it was a hard day. And I know tomorrow will be much harder. But I'm only considering the best outcomes. Why not? It's pointless to freak out about what may or may not happen. Miracles are possible. I've got proof of that.

Thank you, friends, family, people I've never met, for the messages of encouragement. Each one is like a little firecracker of warmth and good feelings. Keep 'em coming.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

As It Happens

Was interviewed on As It Happens on CBC radio last night. You can hear the interview here. Just click on "Listen to Part One of As It Happens."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

CBC News at 6 and Homerun interviews

Watch the interview on the CBC news at 6 from Thursday, March 18th here.

To hear the interview that aired on Homerun, go here and go to Thursday, March 18th.

I write this about 24 hours before my third attempt to go through with this trial in Athens.

A quick recap of why this is happening:

I was drugged and most likely sexually assaulted in Athens in August of 2005. The man was caught a month later, and charged with doing the same thing to 3 other women (two from Australia, and one from Denmark.) He has since been convicted for raping the Danish woman, sentenced to 5 and a half years in prison, and released after serving 18 months.

A slightly less quick recap of what has happened since I last posted:

1. I've learned that the reason the man who did this is now walking free is the fault of the Greek government. Myself and one of the Australian victims WERE subpoenaed to appear at the same trial as the Danish woman, in 2006. However, the subpoenas were sent to the HOSTEL where we had both been staying when we were assaulted. Thus, the case went ahead with 1 witness instead of 3. (The other Australian woman has decided not to participate.) Thus, he was given a lighter sentence. Thus, a convicted rapist walks free, because of the incompetence of the Greek authorities.

2. This trial, scheduled to begin on March 22nd, will very likely be postponed as another trial has been scheduled to begin that day. Because the Easter holidays begin in Greece on March 29th, which means all governmental affairs shut down for two weeks, there's a very good chance I will be stuck in Greece for a month.

3. However, there is a possibility that myself and the other woman would be allowed to give our testimonies and leave. That's the best case scenario, and it's what I'm hoping for.

Those are the main points. I'll be posting about what's happening from here on in, both from a factual point of view and my experiences. And what I ask again is this: tell my story. Tell your sisters and your friends and your daughters and your mothers. If we can prevent this from happening to one other person, all this is worth it.

I will be on CBC TV tonight, and Homerun on CBC radio this afternoon.

I'll be Tweeting too.

Wish me luck.