Probe into monks’ vow of silence

A prosecutor yesterday ordered an investigation into whether two senior monks from the Vatopedi Monastery should face charges after refusing earlier this week to answer questions as part of a parliamentary inquiry into whether they were involved in an illegal property exchange with the state. Court of first instance prosecutor Yiannis Sakellakos has asked one of his subordinates to examine whether head monk Ephraim and his assistant Arsenios broke any laws when they just handed written statements to the investigative committee. The pair were immediately asked to appear before prosecutor Dimitris Pieros on December 5 as part of the investigation into their decision to shun MPs questions on Monday. Ephraim could be facing spiritual as well as judicial consequences for his actions, as it was revealed yesterday that Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios has called him to a meeting at the Patriarchate in Istanbul tomorrow. Sources said that Vartholomaios is concerned about the reports concerning the monastery’s dealings and Ephraim’s behavior and it is possible he may ask the monk to stand down from his post until the investigation into whether there was anything corrupt about the property deal is concluded. The Vatopedi Monastery, which is on Mount Athos, falls under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate rather than the Church of Greece. Meanwhile, lawyer Dionysis Pelekis, who is the father-in-law of former Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis and who acted as a notary, along with his daughter, in the property deals, has denied any wrongdoing. He also said that Voulgarakis had never shown any interest in the affair.