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An acid attack that shocked Greece

An exclusive article form Orestis Karipis

In the 1930’s and 1940’s acid was the weapon of deceived husbands and wives in the Western world and in many cases the perpetrators were never punished.

Credit: PA / Channel 4

In recent years we have had a new wave of attacks such as the one against Kathy Piper. In 2009, Arthur Collins, the former lover of the TV reality show star, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for an acid attack during a dance competition in the East End of London. Kathy  Piper eventually became blind in one eye and underwent surgery that was pioneering for its time, including the use of skin grafts, to restore her face and eyesight. Another case was in 2012 which shocked Belgium when a woman was attacked by her ex-boyfriend. The acid burnt her whole face. It is characteristic that in London in 2016 alone there were 454 attacks.

In Greece, a major issue in journalism during the last month has been a case of an acid attack by one woman on another, a story that has shocked the country. Specifically, at around 9:30 on the morning of 20th May, 34 year old Ioanna was attacked with acid by a woman, who had covered up her face, at the entrance to the offices of the insurance company where the victim worked.

The victim is still being treated in Thriasio Hospital for extensive acid burns on her face and body. At the same time, just a few days ago, The Greek Police arrested a 35 year old woman accused of perpetrating the attack. The reason seems to have been insignificant as the evidence to date according to the case file suggests that sexual jealousy was the motive. Today, News presents the exclusive first interview with Ioanna who from the hospital and through her lawyer, Mr. Apostolos Lytras, has answered our questions, on topics that she answered also to the authorities.


Firstly, I would like to wish you the speediest possible recovery and a quick return to your normal life.

The attack which you suffered a short while ago has created a great sensation in public opinion and not just in Greece. What do you remember of that day? What image and what feelings have imprinted themselves on you? Various things have been said in the mass media and it is important that, for the first time, you, yourself, speak freely.

 I have described the moment of the attack to the Police. At the time I was going to work, having entered the office block and waiting for the lift to go up to the floor where I worked, suddenly there appeared in front of me a woman wearing a mask and, without speaking, she threw a large quantity of a caustic liquid into my face. I began to run to the exit and went immediately to the pharmacy opposite where they gave me first aid. The only thing I felt at that moment was unbearable pain and burning.


Please tell us a few words about your life. You come from a provincial town in Greece but in recent years you have lived in Athens, is that correct? What have you studied and what work do you do?

 I studied economics. I have lived in Athens for 15 years and, until the day of the attack, I had been working in an insurance company as an accountant and economist.

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Recently, have you felt in danger from anybody? Have you received any threats or other signs that somebody wished to do you harm?

I had never received any threats from anybody. I had no arguments with anybody. Also, as I said from the beginning, I could not think who did this abominable act against me because I didn’t have any problems with anybody.


Last week, the Greek Police arrested a 35 year old woman, whom evidence to date shows to have probably been your assailant. Did you know her? Was she within your circle of friends? Have you ever wondered if she could have been the woman who attacked you outside your workplace?

She was not my friend. She was simply an acquaintance. I think she comes from a village near mine. This particular woman I have seen only 5 or 6 times at social events. I had no special relationship with this woman beyond what I have told you. From what I have learned this woman believed that she has a relationship with some man who sent me at some time a request to be friends on Facebook and some ordinary messages. I don’t know and have never met this particular man.


What message would you like to send to your assailant? Also, finally, I would like you to tell us what you would say to the world which worries about you and prays for your speedy recovery everyday.

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I would like to thank all those who have sent me their wishes and I have taken strength and courage from them to bear all that has happened to me. Also, I want to thank my doctors who above all have supported me psychologically so that I can overcome these difficulties. As far as the accused is concerned, the only thing I would like her to tell me is the reason why she has destroyed my whole life.


With our sincere thanks for your time and our best wishes that you will get well soon.



The victim’s lawyer gives us an exclusive!

Have you taken on a difficult case which as moved your country? How does a lawyer deal with such a psychologically difficult case knowing that it is a very fine balance which he must retain?

I have taken on very many, similarly difficult cases in the past, which occupied public opinion and the pressure is really high on the feelings of the lawyer either defending the accused whose personal freedom is at stake or representing the victim who is seeking justice. The lawyer is a co-worker of justice and helps the judicial authorities with the aim of producing a fair judgment.


The Greek Police have undertaken a thorough investigation resulting in an arrest in the past week. Are you satisfied with this result? Do you have any concerns regarding the treatment of the alleged assailant?

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The Greek Police have done an outstanding job and we must offer congratulations to the Security Sub-division of Attica and the Security Police of Kallithea because in a really difficult case they found all the evidence which led to the arrest of the assailant. The case is well tied up and the evidence which led to the arrest of the accused is overwhelmingly against her and leaves not the slightest doubt that she committed this heinous crime. Notably, we are speaking of a well-planned crime in which the criminal has done everything to avoid leaving traces and to entirely remove any possibility of her being found. This made the work of the Police more difficult but, once again, it shows that “there is no perfect crime”.


What are the next steps which will be followed by the judicial system in your country and what are your next steps as the lawyer for the victim?

After her arrest charged with attempted murder, the accused was brought before an investigating Judge to plead on the acts attributed to her where the case file is submitted with the relevant evidence from the preliminary investigation. With the consent of the investigating Judge and the prosecutor, the temporary detention of the accused was ordered because there was serious evidence of her guilt and she was considered dangerous and suspected of committing other crimes. At this stage we have presented a statement  supporting the accusation. We will appoint experts to provide documentation and witness statements to ensure that justice is served and that our client is completely vindicated.

With our sincere thanks.

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