Montreal woman faces delay in Greek sex assault trial

A Montreal woman summoned by Greek authorities to testify against a man accused of being a serial rapist has been advised to stay in Canada for now.

Canadian subpoenaed to testify, but strike may delay process

A Montreal woman summoned by Greek authorities to testify against a man accused of being a serial rapist has been advised to stay in Canada for now.

Natalie Karneef, 31, was subpoenaed to testify in a Greek court about her experience of being drugged and assaulted while on holiday three years ago in the Mediterranean country.

Emmanouil Aristovoulos, 51, is accused of sexually assaulting Karneef and three other women.

Karneef had been scheduled to travel Saturday for next week's trial. But Greek authorities contacted her Thursday, recommending she delay her plans because a court secretarial staff strike next week will cancel trial proceedings.

Karneef said she's in "complete shock" about the delay, the latest stumbling block in her three-year ordeal. But she hopes speaking publicly about her experience will help other women avoid similar attacks.

Preparing for the trial has occupied much of her time in the last few months, she told CBC News.

"It's taking its toll on me, I don't think I've ever dreaded something so much in my life," she said earlier this week. "I just want it to be over."

Man offered a tour

The freelance writer was travelling alone in Athens in 2005 when she met Aristovoulos, who offered to give her a tour.

Karneef said he bought her some food and then she blacked out, waking up hours later naked in a hostel room, very confused.

"I was surrounded by people I just met, and it was just like this horrible feeling. You have nobody and you just want to, like, crawl into a hole," she said.

The thought of facing Aristovoulos again is less daunting than facing his defence lawyer, Karneef said.

"They're going to use what I was wearing against me, and I happened to be wearing a short skirt and a tank top," she said. "They're going to say that I initiated and it's like you have to defend your actions, and it's really humiliating, it's horrible."  

Karneef worked with a Montreal criminal lawyer who cross-examined her in preparation for her testimony.

"I need to just have my say and then let it go," she said.

Aristovoulos has already served time for sexually assaulting a Danish woman.