A local court on Crete unanimously ruled in favor of the director of an animal shelter in the Chania region, dismissing all charges of profiteering from the placement of animals, mostly dogs, abroad.
Greek-American Elizabeth Iliakis, who was born in the United States and whose parents were Cretans living in New York, returned to Greece and started directing the Souda Shelter in 2016 as a volunteer. At the time, the shelter was hosting 253 animals, most of which were adopted by people living in Germany, Finland, Sweden and Denmark.
“I was accused of selling dogs, profiteering from animals leaving for homes abroad,” Iliakis told state-run news agency AMNA. “They accused me of illegal tranport of animals and running an illegal shelter. Her lawyer, Maria Evangelou-Papadaki, presented the court with all accounting records for the past year “to prove that all funds end up in an NGO bank account and are recorded, as expenditures are.”
Supporters stood outside the court, holding photos of the animals they had adopted.
The case can serve as a precedent for a lot of other animal societies that have been sued in courts for the same issue. Iliakis says the ruling “is good for the animals of Greece, and a prioneering decision that will definitely influence all other court cases following mine.”
The problem begins from the inadequate implementation in Greece of the European law for tracking animals adopted abroad, she told AMNA. Greek authorities abruptly stopped providing necessary certificates several years ago, opening the way for baseless suits against animal lovers. She expressed the hope that under the recently passed law on protection of animals, they will restart issuing them.
“The responsibility lies exclusively with the Greek state,” she explains. “Greeks love animals as much as Germans, Swedes…It’s simply that the state has ignored this huge problem for many years, and now we don’t know where to start from,” she explains.
Those who took her to court, she says, ironically used the photos she had posted on social medai as proof of their charges she was selling the animals, all of which are neutered. “I post them on purpose, so that people realize that the number of homeless animals that live here cannot – it is not possible – to be absorbed by Greek society.”