Priest, Church officials ‘tricked’ ailing man

A Thessaloniki court decided yesterday that a priest and three members of an ecclesiastical council should stand trial on charges that they tricked a cancer sufferer into making the Orthodox Church a gift of a half a million euros shortly before his death. The court heard that in the days preceding the 82-year-old’s death, his health had deteriorated and, as a result of the heavy medication he was receiving, often did not recognize people nor was he able to speak coherently. Nine days before he died, the man allegedly appeared at his local bank with the priest and three church officials to withdraw the money. Bank employees told the court that the 82-year-old appeared confused and had to be reminded he was withdrawing 500,000 euros, not drachmas. The man’s widow launched the action against the four men, who, along with a fifth person, will stand trial for fraud.