NEWS

Vatopedi charges being lined up

Suspects in the Vatopedi scandal, which has troubled the government since last year, are set to face charges for six felonies and three misdemeanors in connection with claims that a land exchange between the state and the Mount Athos monastery was weighted heavily in favor of the monks. Chief appeals prosecutor Kyriakos Karoutsos yesterday issued the charges against «all persons responsible,» a catch-all legal term. Magistrate Eirini Kalou will now have to decide exactly who will be charged. The six felonies that Karoutsos identified are breach of faith to the detriment of the state, joint breach of faith to the detriment of the state, making false declarations to the detriment of the state, money laundering, as well as instigation of these acts or direct involvement in them. The three misdemeanors that he ascertained are breach of duty, illegal transfer of property rights attaching to a monument and violation of building regulations. Karoutsos also decided that 33 official legal advisers to the state and seven senior monks at Vatopedi should not face prosecution because there is not enough evidence to suggest any wrongdoing. A total of 62 people were questioned as suspects during the long judicial investigation into the case. So, 22 of them could still face charges after Kalou has finished her probe. The possibility of any politicians facing charges disappeared after a parliamentary committee that looked into the case last year failed to arrive at a common conclusion over whether members of the government had intentionally set up the deal to favor the monastery at the expense of taxpayers. Nevertheless, last October then government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos resigned after he had been implicated in the scandal even though he denied any wrongdoing. Last month, the outgoing Supreme Court prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas prevented the case file being resubmitted to Parliament, insisting that no new evidence implicating any politicians had been uncovered.