NEWS

Priest linked to child porn ring

An Orthodox priest, two doctors and several businessmen are among 11 people charged yesterday as suspected members of a child pornography ring using the Internet to trade in hardcore videos and photographs. A prosecutor brought criminal charges of trading in child pornography against five of the suspects, including the 44-year-old priest, with the rank of Archimandrite, and the two doctors – a neurosurgeon and a gynecologist – following raids on their homes in Athens, Thessaloniki and other parts of the country yesterday. According to officers, the raids resulted in the confiscation of 28 computer hard drives and hundreds of DVDs containing photographs and videos of children as young as 6 months old being sexually abused by adults. Another 13 people have been accused of purchasing DVDs containing the pornographic material and police are seeking dozens more. Among these 13 suspects is a policewoman and an army officer. All the Greek suspects implicated are alleged to have used their credit cards to purchase access to Internet sites containing the images for 80 euros, according to police who said they were having trouble locating all the users as many had used Internet cafes. Athens Court of First Instance prosecutor Eleni Raikou yesterday ordered that the suspects’ names be made public, in accordance with legislation for crimes against minors. The arrests were carried out following a tip-off from the British police, who have just concluded a global investigation into the child pornography trade. The probe by British police reportedly led to the discovery of more than 200 websites, for so-called VIP members, which are believed to have been used for the purchase and sale of hardcore child pornography. Last year, Greece charged 21 people in two separate busts. In September a nationwide crackdown, carried out in the context of an international campaign with similar operations in 76 countries, led to the arrest in Greece of nine people, including a policeman. Another 13 people were arrested last May in another international operation. Legislation passed in 2007 imposes heavy sentences, including life imprisonment, for those found guilty on charges related to child pornography.