Arrest Made Over Child Sexual Abuse Claims in Greek Migration NGO Programme: Report

Former artistic director of Greece's national theatre Dimitris Lignadis (C) is escorted handcuffed by police officers to the examining magistrate in Athens on February 21, 2021. - Lignadis was arrested on Saturday over allegations of rape against minors, amid a belated #MeToo awakening. Dimitris Lignadis, a renowned actor and director, …
ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images

A former Greek theatre director was arrested over allegations of rape and sexual abuse, and is being investigated for possible sexual abuse of minor migrants who took part in a course facilitated by pro-migrant NGOs, a report claims.

Dimitris Lignadis, the former artistic director of the National Theatre of Greece, was arrested over the weekend on suspicion of sexual abuse of a 14-year-old in 2010 and another assault, but prosecutors have been called in to investigate other possible abuses of migrant minors from 2017 to 2018.

According to a report from Greek newspaper Proto Thema, Special Secretary for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors of the Ministry of Migration Irene Lovedakis called on prosecutors to look into any potentially illegal acts involving Lignadis and minor migrants who took part in a theatre course.

Antigone Lyberaki, the general manager of the NGO SolidarityNow, released a message on Facebook denying any connection to Lignadis saying, “Despite the unequivocal denial, some social media accounts continue to spread rumours that our organization and I personally had relations with Dimitris Lignadis.”

“We do not know what their motives are. Probably hostile to NGOs, probably want to cover up other relationships and disorientate justice investigations. In any case let them know that their fake news won’t scare us,” Lyberaki added.

Sofia Vgenopoulou, head of the Youth Stage at the National Theatre of Greece, spoke to Proto Thema saying that the programme involving minor migrants lasted around two years and that detailed information on the participants was kept along with the participating NGOs.

Vgenopoulou denied that Lignadis had been involved in the programme saying he did not teach in or design the programme and stated that the theatre had never received any complaints regarding the programme.

Sexual abuse of migrants in Greece has been suspected in the past with the US-based Mercy Corpos NGO placed under investigation over abuse allegations in 2017.

Last year in Italy, the head of another pro-migrant NGO was also placed under investigation for sexually abusing a migrant who presented photographs and video of the alleged abuse to investigators.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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