Saturday, August 27, 2005
Greek MP Wants Sex Crazy Brits Out
A Greek MP last night called for the extradition of British tourists caught on camera having sex in the bars and beaches of the Greek island of Zakynthos, Europe's latest party haven. Dimitrios Varvarigos told the Guardian that it was time to make an example of the scores of Britons committing "gross public indecency" in Greece.
After pictures showing revellers performing oral sex on one another in the town of Laganas were splashed across the front page of an Athens newspaper, Greek officials were trying to identify the tourists and holiday reps involved.
"Unfortunately, young Britons have been shown in photographs engaging in acts that are not only low-life but, frankly, criminal," said Mr Varvarigos, a veteran socialist MP. "We're talking about a lot of people [in the photographs]. As many as possible should be located, extradited if need be, and made to bear the consequences," he insisted. "Under Greek law that might mean enduring prison sentences of two or three years but it would set an example."
There is mounting anger among the islanders over the alcohol-fuelled antics of British tourists. Until recently, Laganas was a relatively peaceful resort, better known for its ancient nesting ground of Loggerhead sea turtles than rampaging Britons. At first, the arrival of the tourists was met with bemusement and even glee as the island reaped the rewards of a police clampdown on partying hedonists in the Rhodes resort of Faliraki after the death of an Irish teenager in a bar brawl last year.
"But then, this year, we noticed they really were a very different breed. They were much younger and got very drunk from very early on in the day" said Vasillis Vosaitis, who has run a car rental company in Laganas since 1985.
Mr Vosaitis said he had recently seen a man walking down the neon-lit main strip "completely nude". He said: "And then, the other night I saw this couple having sex right in front of me in a car. I couldn't believe it."
Last week, as news of the drugs and booze-fuelled revelry spread across Greece, panicked local authorities moved to close several clubs hosting "anything goes" sex games. One, the Baywatch Beach Club, was shut down after holiday reps were caught egging on drunken orgies.
"My telephones don't stop ringing with locals calling in to protest either about the noise or behaviour of these youngsters," the town's deputy mayor, Stavros Papadatos, said in an interview. "But, personally, I think it would be wrong to punish them. Most are between 15 and 18 years old, and when you see them out on their first night they're really nice kids. By the second they've become totally different people, totally liberated and blind drunk."
Without doubt, said Mr Papadatos, holiday reps and the Greek proprietors of Laganasa 200-odd bars and clubs were to blame.
"Every night each one of them must make around €1,000 (£700) organising pub crawls. It's on those crawls that young British girls and boys appear to lose their minds. They're served adulterated liquor and drink non-stop for hours on end. Who can blame them for then feeling totally inebriated?" The ruling conservatives have been quick to enact a "zero-tolerance" policy in the 17 months since they were swept to power.
But police in Laganas say they are hopelessly understaffed. A team of just 12 officers struggles at the peak of the summer to deal with a tourist population that by last week had swollen to over 10,000. British women have been raped by British men, and the Greek media has demanded that tougher measures be taken against the "English hooligans". The tourism minister will fly to Zakynthos for an emergency meeting with local authorities next week.
But striking a balance between meeting the demands of the revellers and keeping the peace is not easy. With most locals depending for a livelihood on the tourist industry, few are willing to complain too loudly.