Father Xeros refuses to take oath

Father Triandafyllos Xeros, a Greek Orthodox priest, did not testify in the trial of three of his sons and a former daughter-in-law yesterday after refusing to swear on the Bible. The court, in Korydallos Prison, is hearing the case against 19 suspected members of the November 17 terrorist gang. Father Triandafyllos was to testify on behalf of his son Savvas, who was seriously injured by a bomb he was carrying in Piraeus on June 29, 2002 and provided police with their first big break in the case. Xeros said the Bible forbids one to swear by it and that he had been sentenced to five months in prison in 1970 for again refusing to take an oath in court. Xeros also rejected the alternative of taking an oath on the basis of his being a priest. This flummoxed the court, which took a short break. The prosecutor then said that no one could testify without taking an oath. «You don’t need to break the law. I won’t testify and everything will be fine,» Father Triandafyllos declared and stepped down. Yesterday’s hearing was disturbed also by a heated exchange between presiding judge Michalis Margaritis and prosecutor Christos Lambrou. Margaritis warned that the case, which began in early March, was dragging on too long. This was prompted by the prosecutor’s questioning of PASOK MP Foivos Ioannidis, who was testifying in defense of extreme left-wing unionist Yiannis Serifis, one of the 19 suspects. Lambrou shot back that it was the judge who was not following legal procedures. «Which articles are not applied? You keep asking questions. You don’t care about anything,» Margaritis charged. «Witnesses come here with their analyses. Can I stand back and watch as the work of justice is damaged?» Lambrou demanded. Margaritis replied: «You’ll be the death of the judge. You don’t support him. From now on I’ll ban questions.»

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