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"Sacred" arrest of an abbot of a Mount Athos monastery a day before Christmas

23 December 2011 / 22:12:36  GRReporter
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A Christmas surprise for the abbot of the Vatopedi Monastery of Mount Athos was prepared by a three-member board consisting of judges of the Court of Appeal. The board ruled the detention of Archimandrite Ephraim. The Judicial Council ruled on the occasion of a disagreement between the investigator and prosecutor, which followed the abbot’s testimony two weeks ago.

The investigator had proposed the detention of Ephraim, who is accused of fraud, legalization of income from illegal activities, counterfeiting and formation of a criminal group. However, the prosecutor’s opinion was different and he offered the imposition of restrictive measures and bail to the amount of two hundred thousand euro. The Council speaker was also of the opinion that the abbot should be detained.

Thus, the preliminary investigation of one of the biggest political scandals is over. It marked the beginning of the end of the government of New Democracy and Costas Karamanlis in the autumn of 2008. The politicians involved in the case were not even investigated, despite the decision of Parliament for the contrary, report Greek media. They were "saved" by the criticized law on ministerial responsibility, according to which their actions are covered by the statute of limitations period after the end of each parliamentary term.

The case was connected with the exchange of properties between the Greek state and Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos. In particular, the case was about the Vistonida lake and properties of total area of ​​27,000 acres that the property service in Xanthi had transferred to the Vatopedi Monastery in 2003 by a court decision. The ownership of the property, however, is controversial. The monks argue that the property has belonged to the Monastery since 1080 and refer to royal decrees, i.e. Donation decrees issued by Byzantine emperors.

The dispute was brought to the court, but before the final decision, the Deputy Minister of Finance at that time Petros Doukas signed an order approving the withdrawal of the Greek state from the case. He justified his actions with the legal opinions issued by the State Legal Council and the Council of State Property.

In January 2005, the Minister of Agricultural Development Evangelos Basiakos issued a decision on the base of which the Vatopedi Monastery returned the lake and surrounding areas to the State Property Office. The Monastery received in return two buildings with a total area of ​​20,664 sq m in the Olympic village in Trakomakedones near Athens and 8,600 acres in the area of ​​ Ouranopolis on Chalkidiki. The property is worth 1.1 million euro.

It should be noted that after the Olympic Games, the State Property Office had adapted the buildings to provide them for the needs of the Ministry of Employment. This particular decision was not published in the Official Gazette, and certain ministerial decrees become valid only after being published in the Official Gazette. After the exchange, the Monastery sold the buildings to the offshore company Noliden based in Cyprus. Its owner Spiros Polemis paid 41 million euro for the buildings and gave another 9 million in donations to the Monastery. Another three offshore companies are involved in the case. The representative of Vatopedi Monastery in Cyprus controls two of them.

Monk Arsenios is accused too. He testified before his spiritual mentor and was released, but a bail to the amount of two hundred thousand euro was imposed on him and he was obliged to appear at a police station twice a month.

The news of the imposition of detention found the abbot at the monastery on Mount Athos. According to sources close to him, he said he has no intention of hiding and he is expected to surrender to police authorities on Saturday.


Tags: PoliticsCrime newsVatopedi MonasteryAbbot EphraimMinistersProperty exchangeArrest
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