Prominent theater director sexually abused underage refugees: Greek police

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The Athens Prosecutor’s Office issued an order for a preliminary investigation related to the case of sexual abuse listing the prominent artistic theater director of the Greek National Theater, Dimitris Lignadis, as the main defendant. He is accused of serial rape of minors and adults.

Specifically, the head of the Athens Prosecutor’s Office ordered a prosecutorial investigation to investigate the validity of the rape allegations of minor refugees who participated in a theater course with Lignadis at the National Theater.

The Greek Prosecutor’s Office intervened after, according to the testimonies of neighbors, many refugee children allegedly refused to go there again.

Special Secretary for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors of the Ministry of Immigration Irini Agapidaki submitted a memorandum to the Prosecutor’s Office requesting that the complaints that came to light would be investigated.

“I came to the Prosecutor of the Court of First Instance to request a full investigation of the complaints that arise from recent publications and concern possible illegal acts committed during the period 2017-2018 against unaccompanied minors,” Agapidaki stated.

“Nothing should be left in the dark without investigation,” she added.

The general director of the NGO SolidarityNow, Antigone Lyberaki, stated in a Facebook post that the organization had never been involved in theatrical activities in which Lignadis participated.

“Despite the categorical denial, some pseudonymous social media accounts continue to spread rumors that our organization and I personally had a relationship with Dimitris Lignadis. We do not know what their motives are. They may be hostile to NGOs, they may want to cover up other relationships and disorient judicial investigations. In any case, let them know that their fake news will not scare us. We will continue to strive, together with other civil society organizations, to improve the lives of children in a world of understanding, tolerance, and respect for our neighbor,” she continued.

The program with the minor refugees at the National Theater and the role of the NGOs

The shocking revelations concering Lignadis, who is accused of serial rape of minors and adults require the investigation of the conditions that prevailed in the first theatrical scene of the country at the time in question, and the possible relationship of the actor-director accused of heinous crimes with specific organizations and NGOs.

The most competent to answer these important questions, at least as regards the actions of the last three years, is Sofia Vgenopoulou who is responsible, since 2017, for the program in which the minor refugees participated. She categorically denied any connection with Lignadis to a program he undertook while revealing that there is a complete and detailed file about the children who participated in this program, which lasted a total of about two years.

All the activities were organized under the strict supervision of UNICEF and there is a file with the complete details of the children, their companions, their family backgrounds, and the NGOs that participated.

“The program started with the participation of children from Eleonas and along the way, with the desire and guidance of UNICEF, included many organizations in Athens. We sent an invitation of interest and received responses from many organizations. The children were always accompanied, we had at our disposal the phones of the escorts while in our concierge there was a presentation book. The decision on which children will participate in the program was made by the managers of each organization,” she explained.

“No choice has ever been made by the National Theater. The files are available to anyone wishing to check them out. The National Theater is open to any investigation,“ she concluded.

Title image: Plain-clothed policemen escort handcuffed well-known actor and director Dimitris Lignadis, center, to a magistrate’s office in Athens, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lignadis, 56, the former artistic director of Greece’s National Theatre, has been arrested on rape charges, police say. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

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