Urgent Interventions

Greece: Concern over Case of Olga B., Victim of Trafficking and Rape by a Police Officer

Case GRE 020703.VAW
Rape/Trafficking/Lack of Due Diligence/Unfair Trial/Failure to Protect

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

Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), a member of the SOS-Torture Network, of the lack of due diligence in investigating and prosecuting the rape committed against Olga B. by a police officer in 1998, as well as the lack of protection and a residence permit for Olga B. for the duration of her case.

According to the information received, 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.” OMCT, GHM and lawyers defending Olga B. note that the motion should have been based on “relative nullity” during the trial resulting from the improper summons. If the motion were based on this alternative ground, the entire verdict would be examined for cassation, rather than only the acquittal of the police officer. According to the information received, the Prosecutor has up to 15 days before the hearing to file additional arguments, such as the nullity argument.

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. She also has no identity papers and is facing deportation. The Ukrainian consulate has reportedly refused to issue her a new passport, her former passport having been seized by the bar owner in 1998.

OMCT is deeply concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Olga B. who is receiving no form of protection while her case is pending and is facing deportation. OMCT is also troubled by the unfair trial procedures where the victim was not present to support her claims of rape and trafficking and the lack of due diligence in bringing this case before the court. OMCT is also deeply distressed by the inadequate punishments handed down by the court. While OMCT welcomes the filing of a motion for cassation, the organization remains concerned that, with the motion as it stands now, only part of the verdict will be retried, when the inadequate procedure of summons warrants retrying the entire case. OMCT notes that Greece is a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which mandates all State Parties to take all measures to eliminate trafficking in women, including the development of appropriate legislation and sanctions. Greece is also a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which guarantees individuals the right to a remedy when asserting rights covered by the Covenant.

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in 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. extend the motion for cassation to be based on relative nullity, thus retrying the entire verdict
v. provide Olga B. with the financial means to access effective and adequate legal assistance;
vi. guarantee adequate reparation for Olga B.;
vii. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout Greece in accordance with international human rights standards.

Please write to the authorities in the Ukraine urging them to:

i. grant Olga B. valid identity and travel documents, including a passport, which would enable her to return to the Ukraine if she chooses.


· Constantine Simitis, Prime Minister, Prime Minister’s Office at the Hellenic Parliament, Greek Parliament Blgd, Constitution Square, Athens / Greece, Fax: +30 210 724 17 76, Email:
· George Papandreou, Foreign Minister Athens, Fax: 30 210 36 81 433, Email:
· Filippos Petsalnikos, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, Mesogeion 96, Athens 115 27 / Greece, Fax: +30 210 775 58 35
· Mihalis Hrysohoidis, Minister of Public Order, Athens, Greece, Fax: + 30 210 6917944
· Anatoliy M. Zlenko, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Ukraina, 01801 g. Kyiv, pl. Mykhalivska 1, UKRAINE, Fax: + 380 44 212 22 12,

Please also write to the embassies of Greece and the Ukraine in your respective country.

Geneva, July 2, 2003

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