The local community of Katerini, located in the central Greek Macedonian province, is shocked by the rape of a minor schoolgirl by a 30-year-old Iraqi man who lured her away while she was playing with a friend in Macedonia Square.
The man took the girl far from Macedonia Square to his home, raising questions as to how he was able to lure the child so far from where she was playing and proceed to rape her without anyone noticing. The victim was with the man for days before she was discovered.
Although the incident occurred on Aug. 9, details of the case have only come to light in recent weeks. The mother reported her daughter missing after she failed to come home from the playground. Days later, the girl was spotted with the 30-year-old Iraqi in the central pedestrian street of Katerini, leading the police to make an arrest, news portal Peloponesos reports.
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“Such heinous crimes do not happen in Katerini. We are a small society. The police are responsible, and it concerns us as citizens. And since the police did not issue a statement, we do not know how the situation developed,” said Nikolaos Katanas, a municipal councilor in Katerinis who is responsible for refugee and immigration policy issues.
The man was arrested, and the child, in the presence of a child psychologist, confided to the police what she had experienced, saying that the man had sexually abused her. After a forensic examination was carried out, it was confirmed that the child had been raped.
“It doesn’t matter if it was rape, indecent assault, or molestation, we are talking about an 11-year-old child,” Katanas said. The girl had to be hospitalized in the children’s psychiatric clinic of the Papanikolaou Hospital for 10 days.
The rape case has become a political hot potato, discussed at length among the municipal council of Katerini. Katanas claims the case is being made into a form of “petty politics.”
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He denied that the Iraqi was a beneficiary of the Hestia program, which is an EU-financed program for the integration of immigrants.
“We were accused in the city council because she was raped by an immigrant. The municipality of Katerini does not have illegal immigrants. The municipality runs the Hestia program, as does the municipality of Thessaloniki, which is for asylum seekers,” Katanas said. “This particular migrant had nothing to do with the program; he was a recognized refugee. He did not go through that program and had no connection with the municipality. The municipality does not have a police officer for every immigrant or asylum seeker. For petty political purposes, some people exploited this fact so that they could get the message across that it was the fault of the municipality for bringing in ‘illegal immigrants.'”
Politicians in Europe have long pointed to the problems regarding immigrants and sexual assault, with the neighboring Mediterranean countries of Italy and Spain seeing similar issues. In Italy, nearly half of all sexual assaults are committed by foreigners while in Spain foreigners make up 46 percent of all sexual assault convictions.
Nevertheless, other politicians offered up similar excuses for the rape and called for Greece to accept more immigrants. The deputy mayor of planning and development in Katerini, Dimitrios Vaina, said, “this is a heinous act, and we condemn it. It is a fact that Greece must accept migrants who are persecuted by their countries for many reasons. Apart from that, we as a municipality cannot psychoanalyze every refugee about who he is, what he stands for, and what perversions he may have.”