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Vatopedi Monastery Land Scandal Trial to be Adjourned

vatopediThe trial for the Vatopedi Monastery land swap scandal started on Monday without any of the politicians allegedly involved standing trial. However, it was adjourned for March 23 because the courtroom was deemed not sufficient.
The main defendants are the Monastery’s Abbot Ephraim and monk Arsenios, along with the wife of former Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis, Katerina Peleki, who is a notary. Peleki’s father and brother, who are state mortgage company and State Legal Council officials, are among those charged.
The courtroom was full of clergy who expressed their support to Ephraim and Arsenios.
The defendants are facing charges of breach of trust and false property certification in regards to lakeside plots of Vistonida Lake in northern Greece. The Vatopedi Monastery claims it owns the properties based on documents from 1080 bearing imperial golden seals.
In 2003, the monastery authority went to court over ownership of the land. However, shortly before the court was about to issue a verdict, the Finance Minister at the time withdrew the government’s claims, based on the decisions of the State Legal Council and other authorities.
In the 2006-2008 period, plots of land around the lake were being swapped for high value state property. The deal is estimated to have cost the Greek state 100 million euros. That created a scandal as several politicians were involved in the deal.
During questioning, charges were brought against Agricultural Development Minister Evangelos Basiakos, his Deputy Alexandros Kontos and Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas. When the case was referred to the court though, the judge decided that the charges’ limitation period the former Ministers faced had lapsed.

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