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Greece
05.12.03
Urgent Interventions

Greece: Athens prosecutor rejects Olga B.'s request to suspend her deportation

Case GRE 020703.2 VAW
Follow-up to Cases GRE 020703 VAW and GRE 020703.1 VAW

The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Greece.

New Information

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), a member of the OMCT network, that the Athens prosecutor has rejected Olga B.’s request to suspend her deportation so she can then obtain a residence permit.

Olga B. is a trafficking and a rape victim, whose perpetrator was acquitted for the rape by a court in Patras in May 2003. As the acquittal was overturned by the Supreme Court and a new trial will be held solely for the rape charges, in addition to a second appeals trial for the trafficking charges, Olga B.’s presence is necessary for the future trials and she filed a request on October 24, 2003 that the Athens prosecutor suspend her deportation case so that she can subsequently be granted a residence permit. This request was filed under a new law on trafficking, article 12, para. 2 of law 3064/2002, which purports to offer protection to trafficking victims.

According to the information received, the Athens prosecutor rejected the request and directed Olga B. file anew such a request “wherever the case file is.” Because this is a new law, the Athens prosecutor had the opportunity to interpret the law in a way which would offer the victim more protection, specifically by requesting the necessary information from the authorities in Patras without sending the victim back to the “scene of the crime.” In addition, the prosecutor was aware that the case file was and still is at the Supreme Court which is also in Athens.

OMCT expresses its concern that despite the new law in Greece on trafficking, trafficking victims, such as Olga B., are still not adequately protected. OMCT is also deeply concerned about the procedural irregularities of this case and the fact that the state puts the burden on the victim to go through elaborate and costly administrative and judicial procedures to obtain protection. OMCT reiterates that Greece has an obligation under international law to prevent, prosecute and punish acts of violence against women with due diligence, irrespective of whether these acts were committed by state or non-state actors.

Brief reminder of the situation

On May 23, 2003, a court acquitted a police officer who was accused of raping a 19 year old Ukrainian trafficking victim, Olga B., in 1998. According to the victim, she was never summoned to testify or to be present at the proceedings. There were reportedly two summons issued to an address in Amaliada where the victim never lived. The current residents of that address have sworn that the victim never resided at the address and that they never saw any bailiffs appear to give nor to post the summons. According to the court record, the bailiffs claim to have gone to the address in Amaliada on January 29, 2003 and posted the summons as the victim was not present there. One bailiff also claims that he was told on April 14, 2003 that the victim had moved to an “unknown address.” The victim asserts that she never lived at the address in Amaliada nor did she give that address to the police, and that in 2001, she gave her current address to the court, and further was known to the police as she had done some interpreting work for them.

In the absence of the victim at the trial, the court concluded that she had consented to sexual intercourse with the police officer. The other witnesses, one of which is called Irina, who had testified on behalf of the victim at the preliminary hearings also were not summoned and were not present at the trial. Additionally, there was a lack of due diligence in investigating the victim’s claim of rape, and the case came to trial five years after the initial claim was made.

At the trial, the police officer was given a 2 year suspended sentence for breach of duty as a police officer since he knew that trafficking victims were being held in a bar, did not report the crime, and engaged in intercourse with one of the victims. The bar owner was sentenced to 3 years in prison for trafficking and three other defendants were also sentenced to two years in prison each for procuring women or assisting in the trafficking of women. However, the sentences of these 4 co-defendants were converted into fines (1600 Euros per year) as the court concluded that “a pecuniary fine is sufficient to deter them all from repeating the crime, after evaluating their characters and surrounding circumstances.”

After much public pressure, the Minister of Justice asked the Prosecutor of the Supreme Court to take all necessary actions for the cassation of the acquittal of the police officer (overturning the case on the basis that law and/or procedure were improperly applied, not on the merits of the case). While the Prosecutor of the Supreme Court filed a motion for cassation on June 20, 2003, the motion only concerns the acquittal of the police officer on the grounds that the verdict “lacked specific and detailed explanation.”

According to the information received, Olga B. has not received any form of effective protection during these proceedings despite the risks she faces and the threats she has received. Irina, a key witness in Olga’s case also has received no form of witness protection. Furthermore, because of the lack of improper procedure, Olga B. now faces lengthy, expensive court costs, with no offer of assistance from the government.

In October, Olga B. was again not summoned to court for a hearing concerning her case. According to the information received, she discovered that the Supreme Court held a hearing on her case through a local newspaper. Nonetheless, the accused was present at the hearing. The failure to summon a party is reason enough to nullify the procedure pursuant to Article 174 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Remarks and actions requested

The International Secretariat of OMCT wishes to thank all those institutions, organizations and individuals who intervened on behalf of Olga B. OMCT requests that you continue to write to the authorities of Greece urging them to:

i. guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Olga B.;
ii. ensure that both Olga B and Irina are properly informed of future court dates and guarantee them adequate witness protection services;
iii. grant Olga B. a residence permit in Greece at least through the end of the proceedings related to her case;
iv. provide Olga B. with the financial means to access effective and adequate legal assistance;
v. guarantee adequate reparation for Olga B.;
vi. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout Greece in accordance with international human rights standards.


Addresses

·Constantine Simitis, Prime Minister, Prime Minister’s Office at the Hellenic Parliament, Greek Parliament Blgd, Constitution Square, Athens / Greece, Fax: +30 210 3238129 , Email: Mail@primeminister.gr
·George Papandreou, Foreign Minister Athens, Fax: 30 210 36 81 433, Email: gpap@mfa.gr
·Filippos Petsalnikos, Minister of Justice, Athens, Greece, fax +30 2107489231
·Mr. Giorgos Floridis, Minister of Public Order, Athens, Greece, Fax: + 30 210 6917944
·George Kaminis, Ombudsman for Human Rights, Fax 30 210 7289643


Please also write to the embassy of Greece in your respective country.

Geneva, December 5, 2003

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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