NEWS

Archbishop denies corruption link

Archbishop Christodoulos, head of the Church of Greece, yesterday hit back at accusations he had close ties with a priest alleged to be deeply involved in a major trial-fixing scandal. In a four-page statement, the archbishop denied claims made by Bishop Ieronimos of Thebes that he was effectively blackmailed into voting for Christodoulos before elections in May 1998 by Archimandrite Iakovos Yiossakis, who is said to have been close to the archbishop. Yiossakis is at the center of allegations that began surfacing some three weeks ago, after a series of undercover television reports, that a ring of judges had been issuing favorable decisions in exchange for bribes. He is suspected of having been a middleman in the alleged corruption ring. One female judge is also suspected of having favored Yiossakis in two cases she was hearing. Christodoulos has been seeking to distance himself from Yiossakis in recent days and in yesterday’s statement actually accused Ieronimos of having close ties with the priest. Christodoulos also rejected claims by Chrisostomos, Bishop of Zakynthos, that in 1994 he had forged six ballot papers during a vote to elect the bishop of Attica. The archbishop labeled the claims «totally false.» He was rocked last week by allegations linking Theoklitos, Bishop of Thessaliotis, and Serapheim Koulousas, the former chief of the archbishop’s office, with drug dealing in a nightclub. The series of allegations prompted Christodoulos to claim that «dark forces» were out to get him and the Church. Meanwhile, Yiossakis appeared before a Piraeus prosecutor yesterday and was granted a two-day adjournment of his case. He has been charged with involvement in the plundering of antiquities on the island of Kythera. The case was originally brought by some islanders in 1997 against a group of people, including Yiossakis, but they later realized that the priest’s name was missing from the list of defendants eventually published by the Council of Appeal Courts. The islanders then notified the Piraeus prosecutor who brought charges against him in 2003. The Church’s ruling body, the Holy Synod, will meet on Thursday to discuss allegations regarding Yiossakis.