Three ND ex-ministers indicted on Vatopedi

Parliament yesterday indicted three out of five former conservative ministers who have been implicated in the Vatopedi land-exchange scandal to be tried on charges of breach of faith. The three – former Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas, former agriculture ministers Alexandros Kontos and Evangelos Bassiakos – were indicted to the Judicial Council in a secret ballot conducted in Parliament late on Tuesday. The other two former ministers who had been embroiled in the scandal – former State Minister and Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos and Giorgos Voulgarakis, who served as both culture and public order minister – were cleared as fewer than half of the MPs in the 300-seat Parliament voted in favor of their indictment. According to sources, the exoneration of Roussopoulos and Voulgarakis fueled vehement debate among members of ruling PASOK about the government’s response to the scandal, which has been the focus of a lengthy investigation by a parliamentary committee. According to the probe, the exchange of property between the state and the wealthy Vatopedi Monastery was heavily weighted in the latter’s favor and may have cost Greek taxpayers millions. All five of the former ministers, who served under the previous New Democracy government, have denied any wrongdoing and accused PASOK of launching the investigation for political gain. In a related development, the former managing director of the Hellenic Public Real Estate Corporation, Constantinos Gratsios, was released after posting 80,000 euros in bail following several hours of testimony before investigating magistrate Eirini Kalou, who is probing the Vatopedi affair.