Rebel monks granted seven-month reprieve

The police siege of Esphigmenou Monastery on Mt Athos will be lifted until mid-October, when the Council of State is to discuss an eviction order against the rebel ultra-orthodox fraternity, the court ruled yesterday. The court rejected as unnecessary the monks’ bid to have the eviction order – ostensibly in effect since January 28 – suspended after the peninsula’s monastic and civil authorities and the Foreign Ministry promised not to prevent the 93 monks from leaving or entering their 1,000-year-old walled complex and the semi-autonomous Mt Athos community until October 14. Then, the court is to hear the monks’ appeal to have the eviction order, by the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate, annulled. The court also ruled that, until a decision is issued on the appeal, there will be no restriction on the revictualing of the community, which has been declared schismatic.