A Herculean task

Among the flurry of scandal allegations, which are in danger of becoming a regular fixture in our daily news, there are some that really leave us speechless – and, at the same time, at a loss as to how to purge the system of these cancerous cells. To be sure, the alleged misdeeds are morally and legally contemptible. And it could not have been otherwise, as these involve bribe taking, lewd behavior and broken vows. One might argue that these acts were carried out by isolated individuals or by a small circle of people. However, what can one say when a single person who has been sentenced for drug dealing is nevertheless reported to have maintained close ties to the police, the Church, the judiciary, representatives of state contractors, and probably even another country’s intelligence units? All this seem to have accumulated in Apostolos Vavilis’s resume. Condemned to 13 years in prison for dealing in drugs, he was granted a 15-year suspended sentence after a police officer testified that he was an informant for the police. He disappeared before a new arrest warrant was issued for him. Again Vavilis received a suspended sentence. He was finally issued a new arrest warrant that was never executed. While being sought by the police, the elusive dealer was allegedly going back and forth from the Public Order Ministry selling services and security systems. In 2001, the police believed he was trading in drugs under the name of Apostolos Fokas. During the same period, helped by the abovementioned witness – a friend of his inside the police force – as well as church officials, Vavilis was sent to Jerusalem to oversee the election of the Orthodox archbishop there; he had contact with the Israeli secret services and used a monk as a witness to issue a bogus identity card. Police, judges, ministry, secret services, bishops and monks, they all opened the door to Vavilis – a man who traded in drugs, armored vehicles and bulletproof jackets, who also acted as middleman in many shady dealings. It’s hard to believe that these were isolated cases. More likely, our public life has been engulfed in an ocean of corruption. If that is true, then purifying one or two institutions simply won’t do. We have a Herculean task of cleaning up every aspect of public life. The question is who can and how to fulfill such a daunting challenge when corruption has reached such unnerving proportions.

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