MPs mull report on property swap

Members of the parliamentary committee investigating the controversial land swap between the state and the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos decided yesterday to postpone until Tuesday the delivery of their final report in the hope that some common ground would be found between the representatives of the five parties. It appeared yesterday that there was little chance of any consensus being found, as was the case more than a year ago when the real estate deal was investigated the first time by deputies. The New Democracy MPs sitting on the panel held a news conference to publicly question the truthfulness of testimony given last week by a former department head at the Agriculture Ministry, Stamatina Manteli. The ex-bureaucrat had claimed that the director of former Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s political office, Yiannis Angelou, and ex-government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos had been instrumental in ensuring that the exchange – which saw the monastery obtain prime real estate in return for property of lesser value – went ahead. The conservative deputies speaking yesterday claimed that Manteli was simply trying to deflect attention from herself because she is facing three criminal charges. The Communist Party representatives on the committee asked for more time to examine the allegations made by Manteli but PASOK MPs, seemingly in a conciliatory move aimed at increasing the chances of the committee finding a common position on whether any politicians should face a preliminary judicial probe, made no mention of her testimony yesterday. Sources said that the Socialist deputies are also likely to acknowledge that some of the party’s former officials should come under further scrutiny. Although the property swap was executed under the previous New Democracy government, part of the process had begun during the tenure of previous administrations.

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