PM urges clerics and judiciary to clean up act

The government will support the purge of corrupt officials in the Church and the judiciary without intervening directly and causing divisions between Church and State, the prime minister said yesterday as a seventh judge is set to face disciplinary measures and the head of the Church of Greece denied links to a known drug dealer. Costas Karamanlis said the Church had to engage in bold decisions to rid itself of corruption and should not make any compromises. «In the last few days, allegations and revelations have come to light which cast a shadow on the top institutions in our democracy and society. Deep-rooted phenomena of corruption have been revealed,» said the premier. Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said that the Karamanlis administration was not examining the possibility of a separation between the Church and State or of a constitutional revision. However, PASOK leader George Papandreou indicated that he felt the need for such a separation, as did leader of Left Coalition Synaspismos Alekos Alavanos. The Holy Synod, the ruling body of the Church of Greece, convened again yesterday and banned clerics from appearing in public discussions. The panel also decided to investigate allegations of drug-dealing against Theoklitos, Bishop of Thessaliotis, further. The Synod accepted written explanations submitted by Theoklitos on the eve of yesterday’s hearing and questioned the reliability of the accusations made by a former Bishop of Thessaliotis, Constantinos, who was eventually suspended. However, Theoklitos himself asked for the case to be looked into in more detail. Panteleimon, Bishop of Xanthi, has been put in charge of the probe. Archbishop Christodoulos, meanwhile, issued a statement denying press reports that he had sent a man called Apostolos Vavilis as a special envoy to oversee the election for archbishop of Jerusalem in 2001. Vavilis is a convicted drug dealer and police informant who is currently being hunted by Interpol and is thought to have traveled to Jerusalem on a forged passport, going by the name of Apostolos Fokas. A Piraeus court yesterday remanded Archimandrite Iakovos Yiossakis, the priest alleged to have been a middleman in a trial-fixing ring, in custody. Yiossakis is facing charges of stealing some 100 Byzantine icons from a monastery on the island of Kythera during the 1990s. Nikos Athanassopoulos, a deputy appeals prosecutor who appeared before the Supreme Court on corruption charges yesterday, argued that he was simply a victim of his acquaintance with Yiossakis. Athanassopoulos is due to attend a further session of the disciplinary hearing today, and faces possible dismissal. Meanwhile, the head of the Supreme Court, Giorgos Kapos, has asked for a seventh judge to face questioning. Evangelos Kalousis, a court of first instance judge in Hania, is accused of placing misleading advertisements in newspapers to attract foreign women and then inveigling them into prostitution on promises of favors, which never materialized.