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Abbot Ephraim has been sent to prison

28 December 2011 / 14:12:12  GRReporter
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Shortly after 10 o'clock this morning the abbot of the Vatopedi Monastery of Mount Athos Archimandrite Ephraim crossed the threshold of the prison in the Athens suburb of Korydallos. After arriving in Athens, he was taken to the police station of Attica. Ephraim spent the night on the 11th floor of the building, not in the remand centre. There were speculations still last night connected with the special attitude to the monk, as he was not taken directly to jail. The authorities explained that Korydallos doors are locked after sunset and no one is allowed to enter the prison. According to police sources, when Ephraim appeared before the prosecutors, he did not refer to his ill health and they issued the order for taking him to prison.

Twenty priests had gathered at the entrance of the judicial institution from the early hours this morning to express their support to the monk. About 250 priests, nuns and ordinary laity with banners and candles had "conquered" Loukareos Street last night and expressed their dissatisfaction with the unfair in their opinion judgement for the abbot’s arrest. They stopped singing church psalms when the car escort with Ephraim arrived and welcomed him with cheers of support and applause.
Some of them spent the night in the building of the Court of Appeal, waiting to see him at the exit of the police car garage of the building. However, the authorities managed to surprise them as well as television cameras, which managed to shoot the escort only upon its entry into the Korydallos prison yard. According to sources, the abbot was subjected to all procedures followed when taking any new enrolments. Then, he was taken to the sixth sector, where those convicted of financial crimes are held.
The judicial saga about the abbot’s custody caused sharp political response. Far-right party LAOS openly supported Ephraim and its members said that interests are hidden behind the court order. Deputy Minister of Regional Development Adonis Georgiadis even demanded the resignation of Deputy Minister of Justice George Petalotis, who was the main prosecutor in the Vatopedi Monastery case. Adonis Georgiadis said that the double presence of Mr. Petalotis in the case as a Deputy Minister and prosecutor is a serious moral and political issue.

At the same time, the Holy township of Mount Athos has appealed to the prosecutor of the Supreme Court of the Areopagus, Ioannis Tende to exercise his legal right to cancel the decision of the Court of Appeal for the arrest of the abbot. The letter of the supreme administrative body of Athos states that it will ensure Ephraim’s stay at the Monastery in order to "help the cause of justice." In another letter addressed to the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, representatives of the twenty monasteries criticize the procedure administered by the judicial authorities and find a violation of the rules of Mount Athos.

"We are surprised by the fact that the actual decision was issued and sent to be implemented urgently in the eve of Christmas. In pursuance of the order, the abbot of Vatopedi Monastery was captured on 24 December by a numerous detachment of police under the leadership of the police chief in Chalkidiki and in the presence of the prosecutor of Thessaloniki prosecutor's office as if they were dealing with an extremely dangerous person who was expected to resist or disobey. "

The prosecutor of the Supreme Court met yesterday the head of Mount Athos to discuss Ephraim’s request to be detained in his cell at the Vatopedi Monastery and not in prison. Ioannis Tende stated that this is impossible. He explained that Article 57 of the Ecclesiastical Code, which provides for priests to remain in a special correctional institution, cannot be applied because there is no such institution in Greece. Monks, lawyers, members of the Greek Diaspora, monasteries, and the holder of executive power on Mount Athos, the Holy Epistasia sent letters to the prosecution requesting the annulment of the arrest warrant of Ephraim.

The Greek Union of Prosecutors issued a message criticizing the detention of the abbot as "unacceptable interference with the work of justice." Court judges commented on the criticism by Russia too. "Criticizing the decisions of the independent Greek justice by representatives of foreign countries is unprecedented. It ignores the fact that in countries developed in legal terms a feature of the legal state is precisely the separation of powers," they point out.

The discussion in the public space that the authorities are using the abbot as a "showcase" to allay public discontent is intensifying. "Whether guilty or not, Ephraim is an ordinary citizen, while the politicians involved in the case have remained unpunished. But dog does not eat dog," commented many Greeks in social media.

Tags: PoliticsEphraimArrestProsecutorPrisonMount AthosVatopediIntervention in the work of justice
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