Two dailies charged over sex ads

A Piraeus prosecutor yesterday brought minor sex-linked charges against two mainstream daily newspapers for regularly printing classified adverts for escorts placed by prostitution rings. The publishers and editors of Ethnos and Apoyevmatini were charged with the misdemeanor of «attempting to facilitate acts of debauchery» through the classified adverts, which are published on a daily basis in the «personal» section. Several other newspapers contain bulging «personal» or «escort» classified advert listings, which usually amount to a thinly disguised marketing campaign by prostitution gangs. The move by Piraeus prosecutor Grigoris Peponis followed a series of cases in which the police vice squad arrested prostitutes in Piraeus hotels after undercover officers followed up on newspaper ads. In many cases, the women have proved to be victims of sex-trafficking gangs. Recently, police started off from ads for escorts to break such a ring, freeing five young Eastern European women whom the gang had held captive in a string of Athens apartments. Yesterday, Peponis also instructed the vice squad to make a point of sending summonses to the publishers and editors of newspapers that print adverts for sexual services. Such drives have enjoyed minimal success in the past. Peponis had taken similar action in the summer of 2001, but little came of it. In 1995, seven newspapers were charged with «facilitating acts of debauchery» on 20 different occasions. But when the matter came to court, the newspaper publishers and editors were acquitted on 16 counts and only convicted on two. The court ruled that it was not competent to judge the other two cases.