Greek minister calls for investigation into #MeToo claims

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Greece’s culture minister on Friday called for an investigation into a groundswell of sex abuse claims against prominent artists, part of a belated #MeToo awakening in the country.

Several actresses and actors have stepped forward in recent weeks to decry sexual abuse, sexual harassment and bullying by prominent actors and directors, mostly going back decades.

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A number of men have also claimed they were abused as minors or teenagers by one well-known star.

“Nobody had ever told me anything,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni told reporters Friday, adding she was not familiar with the personal lives of artists.

“We didn’t cover up anything,” she said.

Mendoni said she had asked the supreme court prosecutor to look into the allegations.

She also referenced former National Theatre artistic director Dimitris Lignadis, who resigned earlier this month, citing a “toxic climate of rumors, innuendo and leaks”.

Mendoni said she had confronted Lignadis about the accusations.

“We strongly pressured Lignadis to say if he was the one named in the rumors... there was a steady denial that the rumors were not about him,” Mendoni said.

Lignadis has not been formally charged and denies the allegations.

Mendoni said she had spoken to the lawyer of one of the men who says he was raped as a teenager.

Several other high-profile figures have been embroiled in accusations of abuse in recent weeks.

Giorgos Kimoulis, regarded as one of Greece’s finest actors, has also been removed from this year’s Athens and Epidaurus Festival, after a flurry of bullying claims from actresses.

And one of the country’s top comedians, Petros Filippidis, has been removed from a popular state TV show after claims of lewd behaviour by actresses.

Few of the complaints can be prosecuted as they occurred decades ago.

More than three years after the #MeToo movement surfaced in the United States, the code of silence in Greece was broken by a two-time Olympic sailing medallist, Sofia Bekatorou.

Bekatorou in December said she was 21 when she was subjected to “sexual harassment and abuse” by a senior federation member in his hotel room, shortly after trials for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

The main opposition Syriza party and a number of artists have called for Mendoni’s resignation.

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