Eight years after the publication of an investigation of the Center of Investigative Journalism about a network of pedophiles in Moldova and Ukraine, Greek justice ruled: Nick Georgiadis, one of the pedophiles abusing minors, was convicted. Tuesday, February 26, in Greece, two years in prison. In the Republic of Moldova, Georgiadis was "escaped" from criminal punishment.
"The court in Athens, Greece did not acknowledge any mitigating circumstances and sentenced Georgiadis, aged 55, to a 28-month prison sentence and a fine of 20,000 euros. At the time of committing the crimes, he was advisor to the Minister of Economy within the EU Public Policy Advisory Mission, (a project funded by the European Union and implemented by UNDP Moldova ) ", writes Documentonews portal in Greece.
The journalistic investigation “Killers of angels" conducted by journalist Olga Ceaglei from the Center of Investigative Journalism and Andrei Astefanesei from the publication Ziua de Iasi in Romania was published in August 2011. The undercover investigation revealed a network of pedophiles, that recruited minor boys for sex with foreign citizens.
The investigation from 2011 revealed that the clients of the network interacted with children from Moldova, including the Transnistrian region, on the Russian socialization site www.odnoklassniki.ru. Photos of the same boys were published in a photo gallery and on an English blog - gaymoldova.livejournal.com. The blog was created to attract foreign clients. Journalists documented several people joined by minors and found that some of them had jobs in European countries and international organizations.
One of the investigators joined the network under the pretext of being a client who wants to buy the minors’ services. So he managed to find out about more clients of the network. Later, one of the boys who took over the network, after its leaders were arrested by prosecutors, revealed more details about pedophiles abusing Moldovan children, including Nick Georgiadis, who worked in Moldova as an international expert and had diplomatic immunity.
Nick Georgiadis, a former Greek MP, came to the Republic of Moldova in April 2010 to serve as adviser to the Minister of Economy within the EU Public Policy Advisory Mission. The project was funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Moldova. In parallel with the high-level adviser's activities, in his free-time, the European official would have contacted members of a network of child traffickers for sexual gain. The Center for Combating Trafficking in Persons (CCTP) of the Interior Ministry conducted an investigation into the Greek diplomat.
On November 30, 2010, Georgiadis was detained by law enforcement. But he was allowed to leave the very same day after he presented his diplomatic passport. Also, on the same day, prosecutors issued the order to cease criminal prosecution, though a week left until the diplomat’s immunity expired (!). This, given the fact that CCTP had enough evidence: phone records, video showing that the Greek diplomat had sex with young boys in the apartment which he rented in the centre of Chisinau.
In January 2013, the Supreme Court of Justice, represented by the judges Constantin Gurschi, Andrei Harghel and Constantin Alerguş closed Nicolas Georgiadis’s case, and thus escaped justice in Moldova. "There have been procedural violations intentionally admitted by our state structures to let this diplomat escape criminal prosecution on the territory of the Republic of Moldova," says lawyer Natalia Bayram, who defended the interests of victims of sexual abuse.
Back in Greece, Nick Georgiadis was actively involved in the electoral campaign in the autumn of 2016, he worked out the electoral strategy of the Nea Demokratia (New Democracy) party. According to the Greek press, thanks to Georgiadis, Nea Demokratia became the main Greek opposition party with 76 of the 300 mandates. Also known as the right hand of opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Georgiadis had, until the revelations of his past in Moldova, a perfect public image: he was of fond of piano, jazz music and he was involved in social activities.
Three years after the decision of the Moldovan court, in January 2016, the Hot Doc investigation magazine in Athens, in full electoral campaign, republished the article of the Centre of Investigative Journalism in Moldova from 2011. After the publication of the investigation by Hot Doc, Georgiadis was forced to withdraw from the party and public space. Greek journalists published the article and notified in writing the criminal investigation authorities in Athens.
"Originally, the prosecutor Dimitris Gkizis, who took over the case, requested closing of this case, because the limitation period was exceeded. However, Deputy prosecutor at the Athens Court of Appeal Dimitris Pierros disagreed and appointed another prosecutor, who sent the case to court", said Kostas Vaxevanis, editor in chief of Hot Doc for the Centre of Investigative Journalism.
Lawyer from Moldova Natalia Bayram has testified in the investigation carried out by Greek prosecutors. Georgiades was sued for «abusing children [in Moldova] aged over 15, against payment, repeatedly." The first hearing took place in June 2017. Panos Bitsaxis, Georgiadis' lawyer, argued before the court that the evidence in the case was fabricated and asked for the case to be closed, emphasizing that the three boys, allegedly victims, "were not seen , we do not know them. " Although the trial was postponed, with frequent delays, the Greek journalists were insistent. "It is a case at the intersection of political interests, targeting poor children", said journalist Marinous Gasiamis, one of the authors of the investigation published by Hot Doc.
Another protagonist, priest in Denmark, investigated for pedophilia
Moldovan journalists’ investigation targeted another country. Denmark Prosecutors of this country started a criminal case against priest Dan Petersen, who was targeted in the Moldovan investigation. The priest is accused of abusing 12 children in Denmark - a girl and 11 boys aged 12-17. Danish prosecutors also considered cases of abuse in the Republic of Moldova. Peterson's case was filed to court in 2017.
Power of a journalistic investigation
The Center of Investigative Journalism continued to monitor the actions of the protagonists of the journalistic investigation, as well as the fate of the abused minors, and then wrote three more investigations.
In 2011, when the investigation "Killers of Angels" was published, the representatives of the Center for Combating Trafficking in Persons within the Interior Ministry accused us of the publication of the investigation that could affect the criminal investigation. Some years later, both lawyers involved in the trial and some of the prosecution officers appreciated the impact of the journalistic investigation.
Here's what Olga Ceaglei, one of the authors of the investigation who revealed the traffickers network, says: " Justice was done, somehow, just because this case was made public and came to the front page of a Greek investigative magazine after they have read our investigation - "Killers of Angels". Greek journalists further investigated and filed a complaint with the Prosecutor's Office, which led to the two-year suspended sentence of the Greek politician. A soft sentence, though".
"It is a shameful case for justice in Moldova, which, we see, did not do its job well. The diplomat status of the Greek citizen and the diplomatic immunity, his ties with people at power should not have influenced the act of justice. Things have to work differently in a state we all want: no selective justice and backstage games", said Olga Ceaglei.
The journalistic investigation “Killers of Angels” and the author Olga Ceaglei were among the three prize-winners of a prestigious contest for journalists of the Polish Reporters' Foundation, organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland within the Eastern Partnership. Another award was given in the same year by Freedom House Romania as part of the Supporting Investigative Journalism program dedicated to reporters in Romania and Moldova.