Ark of the World: Father Antonio's trial for child abuse has begun

What the special scientist of the Ombudsman testified

Screenshot 3 15 trial, Ark of the World

With the testimony of Samantha Stratidakis, who is a special scientist at the Ombudsman and a social worker, the trial of Father Antonio and seven other former employees of "Kivotos tou Kosmos" began today for the case of physical abuse of children housed in structures of the NGO.

This is one of the three total cases that Father Antonios has open to the Justice. Two more cases are pending against him. One about the finances of the NGO and one more regarding the complaints of two young food boys of the Ark of the World for sexual abuse by the priest.

What the special scientist of the Ombudsman testified

During her testimony today in the trial for the physical abuse of children who were accommodated in NGO structures, Ms. Stratidaki referred extensively to the reports-complaints received by the Ombudsman on this matter. These complaints - as he said - came from guests and employees of the structures and related to what was happening at the NGO.

Opening her evidence at the trial today the witness said: "I was tasked with investigating a series of reports from April 2022. There were six written reports but there were also oral reports."

"He had heard of beatings and once of sexual acts"

Subsequently, the witness referred to a meeting she had with a former guest in the structure of the Ark of the World who spoke to her about the abusive behavior within the structures against children.

"There was a first meeting with Mrs. T.S., who spoke to us," said Mrs. Stratidakis to then convey to the court what the particular guest had described to her. “He told us about cruel humiliating treatment. She told us that the children were violently immobilized by the employees if they were in an outburst," the witness emphasized and added: "She told us that at the age of 16 when she entered the structure, her cell phone was taken away, that the children were subject to a public evaluation system every week so that they can go for a walk with friends, for example. There were consequences, such as isolation, canceling meetings with friends or family, or changing structure. He had heard of beatings and once of sexual acts. There was coercion to hard work and interruption of school attendance", testified Mrs. Stratidaki, who noted that after the first complaints, the juvenile prosecutor's office was informed and the Ombudsman started an investigation.

The witness then received questions from the president of the court.

"Father Antonios changed the children's names, even if they were Christian"

Even during her testimony, the witness said: "On September 6, 2022, a former employee of the structure came to our offices, who told us that a former guest told her that another guest had confided in him that he had undergone sexual acts in Chios. And how other children were beaten and then forced to kneel to apologize (…)".

Continuing, the witness emphasized: "We found that the children's communication with their parents was systematically prevented and this was done only at the headquarters of the structure and only during working hours. In addition, it was at the discretion of father Antonio which children could go to school. Father Antonios changed the children's names, even if they were Christian. We haven't come across it before, it's a special feature of the organization, it marked a 'casting off' of their past life, symbolically that you are rebaptized, that's how I interpret it."

Finally, he mentioned that there were former guests of the structure who were close to Father Antonio and functioned as his "right hand". "What was happening was known to father Antoniou, the children brought it to us," the witness asserted.