Greek ex-theatre director remanded after plea over rape allegations

FILE PHOTO: Greek actor and former director of Greece's National Theatre Dimitris Lignadis is escorted by plain clothes police officers as he arrives at a prosecutor's office in Athens, Greece, February 25, 2021. Stelios Stefanou/Intimenews via REUTERS/File Photo

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek prosecutors ordered on Friday that a former director of the National Theatre be remanded after hearing his plea over child rape allegations, his lawyer said.

Dimitris Lignadis resigned as head of the National Theatre this month and turned himself on Saturday after an arrest warrant was issued following lawsuits filed against him by two men who say he raped them when they were minors.

The case, which follows other sexual abuse allegations in Greek cultural life and sports in recent weeks as part of a delayed #MeToo movement, prompted Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to announce that his government will toughen laws to combat sexual abuse and protect minors.

Lignadis has denied all allegations. After hearing his plea for several hours, prosecutors decided that Lignadis be placed under preventive detention, his defence lawyer, Alexis Kougias, said.

The case "truly has no evidence", Kougias told reporters outside a prosecutors' office. "I am sure that in the end this person will be freed."

Kougias has described the evidence against Lignadis a "crude fabrication".

Lignadis has filed for his arrest warrant to be revoked. His objection has been rejected.

(Reporting by Deborah Kyvrikosaios; Writing by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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