Ephraim’s bid for release rejected

Appeals magistrate Eirini Kalou on Thursday rejected a bid by Ephraim, the Vatopedi Monastery monk at the center of a suspect land swap deal with the state, to be released from custody on bail.

Kalou ruled that the abbot did not meet the criteria for bail despite prosecutor Panagiotis Mantzounis recommending that Ephraim, in detention since December, should be granted conditional release.

Ephraim is accused of money laundering and embezzlement in the exchange of property between Vatopedi and the state that allegedly left the monks better off and Greek taxpayers footing a bill for millions of euros.

An Athens first instance court is on Tuesday due to begin hearing a case brought by the state against Vatopedi Monastery concerning an 18-hectare plot of land in Edessa, northern Greece.