Greece ’s Supreme Court indicted 14 individuals earlier today over the Vatopedi Monastery land swap scandal that became public in August 2008. The court struck down a Supreme Court deputy prosecutor’s reversal of the indictments, requested by three of the defendants, which had been issued by a criminal appeals court.
Those charged are Vatopedi Monastery Abbot Ephraim, monk Arsenios, notary Aikaterini Peleki, attorneys Dionysis Pelekis and Dimitrios Pelekis, former head of the Hellenic Public Real Estate Company (KED) Petros Papageorgiou, KED board member Constantinos Gratsios, former director of KED’s real estate management service Georgios Mitropoulos, former Agriculture Ministry secretary general Constantinos Skiadas and former head of Rural Development Ministry Stamatoula Madeli. Also indicted is former Legal Council of State Vice President Grigoris Krombas, as well as Christodoulos Botsios, Stefanos Detsis and Ioannis Dionysopoulos.
The 14 charged are accused of morally or otherwise instigating acts of breach of trust and issuing false certificates in connection with transactions swapping real estate in Lake Vistonida and its shores with prime real estate belonging to the Greek state as well as damaging the state’s interests. The cost to the state is believed to have been at least 100 million euros, while according to financial writer Michael Lewis, a Greek parliamentary commission established to investigate the scandal, estimated the value of government property received by the monastery at one billion euros. The public fury that followed the revelation of the illegal land swaps led the government of New Democracy to cancel the deals and two Ministers resigned, under huge pressure from the media.
Ioannis Aggelou, director of Former Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis’ office at the time, was the only person to be acquitted under the specific indictments.