Rape suspect Dimitris Lignadis prepares his defence from prison

Rape suspect Dimitris Lignadis prepares his defence from prison

The former director of Greece’s national theatre, Dimitris Lignadis, imprisoned on charges of rape amid mounting accusations of sexual abuse in the country’s arts scene, is preparing his defence from prison.

Lignadis was handcuffed before a public prosecutor on Sunday after being accused of assaulting two men when they were minors.

The 56-year-old, who will be kept in custody until his plea on Wednesday, has denied all charges.

“He denies all that the accusations”, his lawyer Nikos Georgouleas said on Saturday night, ascertaining that the director had voluntarily handed himself in to police after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

“He immediately came to the police headquarters; he is cooperating. We are moving ahead with the legal process.”

The National Theater also stated on Monday that director and actor Dimitris Lignadis “was never involved in a teaching or organizational capacity with the theatre’s workshops for Greek or refugee minors”

Prosecutor Sotiria Papageorgakopoulou launched an inquiry into allegations that claim specific NGOs running shelters for unaccompanied refugee and migrant children arranged for drama lessons with Lignadis in 2017-2018. 

The investigation was launched following a memo sent to the prosecution on Monday by Migration & Asylum Ministry’s Special Secretary for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors Irini Agapidaki, requesting the investigation of these allegations. 

Lignadis is currently being held at the General Directorate of Attica Police (GADA) on charges of serial molestation of minors, and will provide testimony before an investigating magistrate on Wednesday. He has denied all charges. 

Earlier in February, Lignadis resigned as the head of the national theatre, denouncing the “toxic climate of rumours, innuendo and leaks” linked to his name.

The latest allegations of sexual abuse against him are a continuance of a series of similar cases in the country’s art world.

The revelations began to surface after the Olympic sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou triggered an outpouring of national sympathy when she recounted her alleged sexual assault as a 21-year-old by an influential official in the Greek sailing federation.

More #metoo cases in Greece as Mr Lignadis gets charged