NEWS

Attica bishop in deeper trouble

The disgraced bishop of Attica, suspended by the Church and indicted for alleged embezzlement, was also charged with money laundering yesterday, while an imprisoned priest suspected of running a trial-fixing ring faced multiple charges after testifying before a senior prosecutor. Prosecutor Eleni Sotiropoulou pressed supplementary charges against Bishop Panteleimon after he was implicated by a report drawn up by a special investigatory committee on money laundering. The formal accusation is connected with the alleged embezzlement of 100 million drachmas (300,000 euros) from the collection boxes of the convent of Ossios Ephraim in Nea Makri, eastern Attica, in 1996 and 1997, for which he was indicted on March 31. Panteleimon was suspended by the Church’s ruling body, the Holy Synod, on February 4 pending an investigation into claims he was involved in a trial-fixing ring consisting of judges, lawyers and churchmen, owned shares in offshore companies and made lewd suggestions to a young man over the phone. He has denied all the allegations, and resisted strong pressure to resign. The Synod has already forced one bishop to resign and is probing another six for various alleged misdeeds linked with the corruption and sex scandals bedeviling the Church of Greece. Yesterday, deputy Supreme Court prosecutor Georgios Sanidas interrogated Archimandrite Iakovos Yiossakis – a priest held in Korydallos Prison pending trial for stealing religious artifacts from a Kythera monastery – for eight hours in connection with his alleged leading role in the trial-fixing ring. Sources said Yiossakis denied any wrongdoing, maintaining he only had friendly relations with a series of judges under investigation for favoring him in court. Asked about a 6,000-euro payment to one of the judges, the priest claimed to have lent Antonia Ilia the money to help her out of financial hardship. According to the same sources, Yiossakis faces charges of participation in a criminal gang, bribery and complicity in breach of duty by judges.