Buy This Issue
The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 18 October 2014
6 SATURDAY 18 OCTOBER 2014 AUSTRALIA Cold case still on fire Murderers still run free - George Karalis' mother demands justice NELLY SKOUFATOGLOU Still a thorn between Austral- ia and Greece. Still unclear. Still inaccurate. Thus stands the 1998 gruesome double murder of George Karalis and George Loizos in the Aegean Sea to this date. No matter how many times the families of the deceased have attempt- ed to re-open the case, every time they have found them- selves banging their heads against a wall. The wall of Greek justice, or should we say injustice. An adrift death-boat was discovered before the dawn of June 2 by fisherman An- dreas Chrisafogiorgos outside Rafina's waters. In its stern lay the lifeless, blood-bathed bodies of the two Melbourne- born young cousins. The ves- sel, named Skorpios, fought with the wind as if it had just stung itself. Mr Chrisa- fogiorgos radioed his grisly discovery to coast guard of- ficer Andreas Amanitis at 5.35 am. An hour later the port located the boat but it was not until 11.00 am that they sent out Admiral Nik Ekonamakis, with Soultana Marianou, along with several homicide investigators. The first report stated Karalis, 28, was hanging from the roll bar with a rope around his throat, wearing an anti-wind hoodie and shorts, with his right leg in the boat and his left float- ing outside the vessel. His wrists were cut. Loizos, 32, on the other hand, was float- ing face down in the water, partially dressed, with a rope around his belt. His right side was mutilated, stuck in the outboard motor. The examiners took shots of the scene and details of the bodies and were ordered to "carefully" tug the vessel into the port of Rafina for further investigation. If carefully can be interpreted into "drag the boat, with the dead bodies tied partially hanging out, and hose down all the evi- dence" then we have nothing to blame the Greek officers for. A while later, came this: "We advise that the coroner, Ms T.F. Marianou, has car- ried out a post mortem ex- amination and ascertained the following: A. The death of George Karalis was caused by hanging while traces of self- injury were verified. B. The death of George Loizos was caused due to heavy, deep and intensive injuries of the left arm, left semi thorax with bone fractures, and lacera- tions to the left lung caused by an object that cut and crushed through - Homicide." The fact that 44,270 drach- mas (A$225) were found in Loizos' pockets ruled out robbery for the Greek offic- ers. The press release that followed the report stated the two cousins were in a homo- sexual relationship and Kara- lis had killed Loizos after a fight. Some Greek newspa- pers even reported the tragic event as an accident, writ- ing that Karalis tried to save Loizos who accidentally fell overboard and got trapped in the propeller. When he found out his beloved cousin was dead, he took his own life while in shock. The case was 'solved' and closed in a matter of hours, quickly announcing their deaths as a murder-suicide, without taking into consid- eration the brotherly nature of their relationship, Loizos' marriage nor Karalis' Ameri- can girlfriend with whom he was said to be very much in love. He was in fact waiting for her to arrive in Greece a few days later. Witnesses stated that the two men were calmly and happily enjoying coffee and ouzo at a tavern in Porto Bufalo before they set sail off the Evvia Straits. The families, after finding out this specific area was plagued by smugglers, called investiga- tor Stephen Curnow on the case, confident the deaths were a result of criminal foul play. According to him, the case had 'standover-type murder' written all over it. "I formed the opinion that the original finding by the Greek authorities - that Kara- lis had murdered Loizos and then committed suicide - was incorrect and not supported in any way by the evidence available. In fact, the evi- dence clearly supported the contention that both Karalis and Loizos had been brutal- ly murdered by persons un- known," was the conclusion of the statement he filed to the Victorian Coroner's Court. His report came with abundant evidence-based notes. The body of Mr Karalis was then flown back to Melbourne, where pathologist Michael Burke deemed the death to be a homicide. The Austral- ian authorities' findings con- tradicted the Greek inquest's implications, which were re- ported by the Greek media, disparaging the men. Thanks to the parents' immense per- sistence, the authorities over- turned the initial report, clas- sifying the predicament as double murder. Deputy state coroner Iain West filed his report, but as the case was and is outside Victorian ju- risdiction, the Australian fo- rensics could not comment on the unusual deaths further or the flawed operation of the investigation. Neos Kosmos contacted Mr Karalis' mother, Helen Kara- lis, who still requests that the Australian government press Greek authorities to seek the truth behind this unprecedented crime. Aus- tralia attaches a priority to seeing the perpetrators of these crimes identified and brought to justice. Everyone is sympathetic to the Karalis and Loizos families' opinion, but have they taken any seri- ous action since? "We have not had the satis- faction of seeing the perpe- trators of this crime, the 'life- takers' of our sons who were murdered in Greece, brought to justice," she said. "We have spent years asking, begging even, that the Greek authori- ties investigate the deaths ex- peditiously and thoroughly. We know it is a cover-up. It was obvious foul-play. Obvi- ous from day one. All I want is for the truth to shine and the perpetrators to be pun- ished," Karalis' mother states. She has said many times in the past that she would not rest until the day she dies to make sure the true reasons for her son's death are ascer- tained. Yet she is tired, and disappointment has taken her over. She still can't let go - and who can blame her - but she is greatly aggrieved. "We are willing to undergo anything to ensure action will be taken and the people that killed our beloved sons will be brought to justice, but we no longer wish to give in- terviews, provide the press with additional evidence and talk to people for no reason. We need to know that some- thing can and will be done." Mrs Karalis feels the investi- gation was either deliberately botched or a result of shame- less incompetence. "We have since been living in a dark room with no oxy- gen. I don't know how else to describe our everyday regime to you. Every time someone starts investigating we have to undergo an ordeal. Even though years have gone by, it still feels like picking at an open wound. Time makes it even more difficult to go into details - circumstances and reports that have beyond reason offended our families. "Whilst after long-term struggles we saw the satis- faction of filing the deaths under foul play, the evidence does not permit a finding as to the identity of the person or persons contributing to the cause of death. These people continue to live freely. They have gone on with their lives. I want someone to guaran- tee that the case will be re- opened. I need Greece to sym- pathise. I need Greek authori- ties, the Greek press to take action. It is unfair. If the case were under Victorian jurisdic- tion this wouldn't have hap- pened. This is unfathomable." Helen Karalis believes that action to ensure Austral- ian citizens are protected in a country with which we share such strong relations has not been properly taken in this case. She feels the per- tinent matter ought to have been pursued automatically by both governments and not by the families alone, costing them huge amounts of mon- ey. Yet another loss. "For some it may be just one case, a name lost in a pile of files, but for us it is a mat- ter of dignity. We demand from the Greek government that a new inquiry be con- ducted, not just into the cir- cumstances surrounding the tragic deaths, but more im- portantly, into the method of investigation. "We have pursued this on our own and of course I am angry. Angry that the authori- ties did not do their jobs. An- gry that we had to go through so much to make them admit what really happened to my son and my nephew. Angry the result was so poor. An- gry the culprits can still walk free on this earth. Please, help us do something about it. Put the perpetrators where they belong. "I knew my son. And my nephew. He could never have done this to his cousin, or kill himself." The voice of George Kara- lis' mother still echoes in our ears. Greece take heed - it is not just a case. It may have been one incident, but letting this gruesome and barbaric crime sink into this stagnant void of injustice feels like playing along. What if it hap- pens again? What it if it were your son? The parents of George Karalis, Dimitrios and Helen Karalis, at their son's gravesite. PHOTO: NEWS LIMITED. Murdered Melbourne man George Karalis. Melbourne-born Greek resident George Loizos.
11 October 2014
25 October 2014