NEWS

Priest taped shrine’s plunderers legally

The use of a hidden camera in a wealthy place of pilgrimage to catch church officials siphoning off visitors’ cash offerings and calling sex phone lines was not illegal as it did not target the surveillance subjects’ private life, the Supreme Court has ruled. In a decision made public through court sources on Saturday, Greece’s highest criminal court found that Father Lambros Rinis, the priest responsible for the popular church of Aghia Paraskevi in the Vale of Tempe, did not break the law in installing a camera in the shrine’s administrative building. This followed the discovery in 1996 that 45 million drachmas (132,000 euros) in cash and valuable offerings left by pilgrims had disappeared from the shrine’s coffers. The shrine also received a telephone bill amounting to 2.4 million drachmas (7000 euros) for calls to sex phone lines. In 1997, police arrested the treasurer of the shrine’s committee, Sotiris Avdelidis, after the camera showed him putting money under his shirt.