All Defendants in the Vatopedi Land Exchange Trial Acquitted
An Athens criminal court decided on Tuesday, that the exchange of lands between the Greek government and the Vatopedi monastery in northern Greece is not a “scandal,” and acquitted all 14 defendants.
Among those acquitted were the monastery’s abbot, Ephraim — who in early 2012 spent three months in prison on charges of corrupt dealings with real estate — and a monk, Arsenios, on the basis that there was a lack of evidence backing moral instigation charges over a deal trading low-value land for high-value state property that was reported to have cheated the state for more than 100 million euros.
The court’s three-judge panel unanimously ruled to support the recommendation of prosecutor Vassiliki Krina, who argued that there was no evidence of intent on the part of any of the defendants, as they were executing government decisions and were convinced their actions were legal.
In 2008, a special parliamentary committee set up after the case found that any charges of misconduct against officials in the 2004-2009 Costas Karamanlis administration implicated in the deal had expired under the statute of limitations.
After the court’s decision on Tuesday, former prime minister Karamanlis stated that “Today’s verdict heals a major wound. It restores the truth and the honor of the individuals who were unjustly accused. It also exposes those who came up with and executed this dishonorable action.”