Greek justice facing scrutiny from Brussels over handling of case
International News DeskMr. Yiannis Matzouranis, who appeared for Abbot Aphraim said that ‘the remand into custody decision had no moral or legal base’.
The Greek criminal justice system is today in the dock having used extraordinary methods to "capture" Abbot Ephraim the leader of the largest monastery on Mount Athos in Greece, and one of Christian Orthodoxy's leading spiritual figures. The Greek courts have deemed that the monk who was undergoing medical supervision in his residence at the Vatopaidi Monastery, a flight risk, and is now headed towards the notorious Korydallos prison in Athens to be held in custody, ahead of trial in Athens.
Speaking to The London Daily News earlier today one of Abbot Ephraim's entourage confirmed that the length of custody in a Greek jail was unknown, until bail is agreed.
"The custody decision against a clergyman renowned world wide for his charitable work and spiritual mission during Christtmas comes to add to the woes which befell the country as a result of the gloomy political and financial conditions. Needless to say no one has so far been accused or found guilty or imprisoned for the country’s degradation".
The Russian Government and the Russian Orthodox Church have made strong protests to the Greek Government:
“Such actions on the part of authorities of a country that is Eastern Orthodox under the provisions of its Constitution can only be regarded as an instance of inadmissible politicization of court investigations,” the Foundation of St Andrew the First said in a special statement.
The Itar Tass news agency in a report said:
"The foundation urged the Greek judiciary to ensure a fair and unbiased investigation of litigations between the state and the monastery. It also called on the Greek nation to remain committed to the spirit and values of Eastern Orthodox Christianity and to stay away from involvement in the politically motivated court cases."
The statement also said the Foundation officials were quite "astonished upon noting the fact that the court passed a decision on taking archimandrite Ephraim to custody soon after his return to Russia where he escorted the Virgin Mary’s girdle."
In Cyprus protests are being organised outside of the Greek Embassy, in London Orthodox Christians are organising petitions to be sent to the Greek High Court.
The London Daily News contact Prince Charles who has been a regular visitor to Vatopaidi his spokesman said we will not "be making comment on this at present".
The editor of the London Daily News said:
"The Greek Government needs to look at itself before it continues to underline the concerns of many in Brussels that the Greek justice system provides no justice. The recent case of London Cypriot Andrew Symeou who spent 10 months in Greek jails before being released with international organisations condemning the Greek justice system is inadequate and failing".
"My concerns are why an elderly monk is being sent to prison, when there is no risk of the man fleeing justice; this is a witch hunt by corrupt politicians in Greece who should themselves be put on trial for the criminal acts that have bankrupted Greece".
The scandal which has engulfed the Greek media involved land swaps which included the Olympic village in Athens that had been built for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games and where a ministry was to move in after the end of the Games. It was supposed to house a ministry later.
Instead of this, the building was re-sold via commercial companies.
Also, the Greek government "ceded" to the Vatopaid monks some 800 hectares of land valuable from the angle of tourism. The area is located near the town of Ouranoupolis in the vicinity of Mount Athos.
In exchange, the monks handed to the Greek Government some 8,000 hectares of land in the country‘s north. The attorneys claim the transactions inflicted a damage of $100 million as a minimum on the national budget.
In the meantime, Abbot Ephraim told the court of appeal, Friday that he did not recognize any guilt on his part. He vehemently denied all the charges with attempts to exert pressure on Greek politicians so as to complete the deals with the swapping of real estate.