My partner Necati Zontul was raped in Crete in 2001. The experience still overshadows us some 15 years later. But he was determined that we should pursue the case through the courts, initially in Greece and later in the European Court of Human Rights. Many obstacles faced us. Most significantly was the reluctance of others to support the process. "Why talk about this terrible event?" they said.

Necati faced the national media, and not only the men who tortured him but also the Greek navy whose uniform they wore and the Greek authorities who did their best to scupper any trial.

He demanded a Presidential apology. So far, this has not happened but he still hopes it will be forthcoming.

1) Translation

Corruption dogged the trial from the beginning when Liza Turkuman, a local translator deliberately mis-translated the word "rape", so that, in the official transcript of Necati's testimony, it was replaced with the word "slap". Quite a difference, and especially when Necati explained that he poured out his heart to this "lovely lady" who listened to him for fully 40 mins before reducing his account to a single type-written sentence. When he challenged that official transcript, he was accused in an Amnesty International report, of "changing his evidence". In time, and particularly when the commander of the unit testified against his own men, Necati's account was fully accepted.

But it took years and so often the Navy had closed ranks or relied on the police-force and the courts to back them up.

2) The legal definition

To make matters worse, there has been an on-going debate about what constituted torture & whether the insertion of a truncheon actually amounted to rape. It seems to me that the case is clear: rape is about the abuse of power in a sexual context.

More than that, rape is itself a form of torture. What Necati experienced was a deliberate decision to humiliate him. It was racist, homophobic & barbaric. The word "barbaric", however, was repeated later in a bizarre twist on the national news (see part IV).

3) Intimidation

There were more dramatic aspects to the story which I personally witnessed.

Paramilitary activists came three times to the house with guns and orders apparently to kill us. On one of these occasions, I knew one of the would-be assassins and true to form, he confessed everything when offered a cup of tea. Pure Noel Coward or Feydeau perhaps, but absolutely true. He was under pressure too, of course, so we moved house on his advice and kept our heads down. I tried to enlist support from local politicians, who either promised everything or nothing, but there was never any concrete help.


Once, I saw a lady called Nora Katseli MP. Clearly, the whole subject of male rape was so terrible that, when it came time for our interview, she stood behind her desk in a room wallpapered from floor to ceiling with photographs documenting her career in the parliament & she said, "Nora Katseli is not here".

So who are you? "I," she said, rising imperiously to her full 5 feet, and that in lustrous wig and heels, "I am the secretary". Some secretary, I might have added for the self-same lady was dwarfed, as if in a hall of mirrors, by myriad images of herself in iconic pose, year after year, stretching out her arm to make the inaugural sign of the cross at every Parliamentary session. There was even a theft of all our legal papers and later when we got to England, we relied on David Cameron to get them back for us, which to both his credit and Jack Straw's, he did.