NEWS

Judicial probe to widen as Church is further mired

The wave of scandals engulfing the Church of Greece and the justice system intensified yesterday as it was revealed that yet another judge is to face disciplinary procedures, this time after claims of involvement in a sex-trafficking ring, while the Holy Synod is looking into the publication of an indecent picture of a bishop. A sixth judge, as yet unnamed, is to be hauled before the Supreme Court to face questioning and the possibility of expulsion from the judiciary, sources told Kathimerini, after allegations surfaced linking him to gangs which prostituted women. One court of first instance judge already facing corruption charges, Antonia Ilia, yesterday claimed that she was a victim of an operation to blacken her name. Ilia has already been linked with the priest who is alleged to be at the center of the trial-fixing ring, Archimandrite Iakovos Yiossakis, after claims that she favored him in two cases. However, Ilia has now been accused of accepting over 200,000 euros from two lawyers in return for not remanding in custody a psychiatrist who had been accused of giving drugs to addicts that he was meant to be treating. Ilia says incriminating audio tapes have been doctored. Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras yesterday met with Supreme Court prosecutor Dimitris Linos and is understood to have told him to speed up the investigation of allegedly corrupt judges so the scandal does not drag on, adversely affecting public opinion. Papaligouras is expected to submit to Parliament today a 12-point draft law, which he announced last week, in a bid to clamp down on corruption. Among the tougher new measures proposed is up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a maximum 1-million-euro fine for judges caught taking bribes. Some 30 more judges are thought to be under investigation at the moment and deputy appeals prosecutor Nikos Athanasopoulos is due to appear before the Supreme Court on corruption charges today. Meanwhile, the Holy Synod, the Church’s ruling body, yesterday decided to ask for a written explanation from Stefanos, Bishop of Trifyllia, after an indecent picture of him appeared in the press. The body also decided to set up a special panel made up of three bishops – Panteleimonas of Xanthi, Vassilios of Elassona and Efsevio of Samos – to examine allegations of corruption against other clerics. A Piraeus prosecutor is expected today to recommend that Archimandrite Yiossakis be remanded in custody because he is a flight risk, pending his trial for antiquities theft. Yiossakis is currently being held in a cell at the Piraeus police precinct.