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Tuesday, 8 December 1998
Page: 1653


Mr SERCOMBE (10:55 PM) —I want to raise a very grave matter, that is, the death in Greece of a constituent of mine on 3 June, a 28-year-old man called George Karalis. The circumstances of George Karalis's death led, on 16 June, to the Coroner's Court in Victoria issuing a coronial court order with some 17 requests concerning the death that I am advised DFAT has communicated to the Greek authorities. Some of the items that the coroner in Victoria has requested through DFAT are for the Greek authority to provide a photograph of the crime scene, photographs of any exhibits, photographs of the deceased persons—there was another person killed in the same circumstance, a cousin of George Karalis—any drawings of the crime scene, any post mortem reports, reports on forensic examinations and the like.

It would appear that that request from the Coroner's Court in Victoria would have been encouraged by a cable that appears to have come from the Australian post in Athens the day before on 15 June where the following is said under the heading `Unclassified Consular—Deaths—Karalis':

We were informed by the Hellenic Ministry of Justice (Mrs Daphni) that an Australian court order would be valid in Greece under a reciprocal arrangement scheme.

The court order should be addressed to the district-attorney's office of Athens.

That particular communication appears to have produced the court order from Melbourne. It was translated into Greek and the adequacy and accuracy of the translation was certified by the Greek Consul General in Melbourne. Yet, almost six months later, all that appears to be coming out of the Greek authorities at the present time is an indication that their investigations are at a delicate stage and that they have still not complied with the coronial court order from Victoria.

In terms of the circumstances of the case, Mr Deputy Speaker, time prevents a detailed description. However, Karalis was found in a boat with a rope loosely tied around his neck. His wrists had been slashed and knife gashes crisscrossed his chest. His cousin, who was also found in the boat, had wounds consistent with the repeated ramming of the person against the propeller blades of the boat. When the Greek police eventually attended the scene, many hours, I believe after the fact that the boat was floating with two bodies in it, they towed the boat in. Within hours they indicated that they believed it was murder suicide. That particular claim has absolutely outraged the families of these two men, who were very close cousins, and has led to them pursuing this matter with great vigour.

The families are absolutely convinced that the death scene was staged to create an impression. As I said, I do not have the time to go into the detail at this particular stage as to why they believe it was staged but it would appear that the claims initially made by the Greek police of murder suicide do not bear even the most elementary of scrutiny. Later police theory has emerged in Greece that one of the cousins died while trying to fix the boat's propeller and the other cousin, my constituent, responded to this by killing himself, presumably because he was greatly grief stricken. (Time expired)