Friday, October 24, 2008

Monastery land scandal claims second Greek minister

Greek government spokesman - Theodoros Roussopoulos

With the resignation of Theodoros Roussopoulos, the Vatopedi monastery scandal claimed its second Greek minister. Roussopoulos, minister of state and the ruling New Democracy party's media spokesman. quit this evening denying any wrong doing as did Giorgos Voulgarakis, maritime minister in his resignation in September.

The Greek Orthodox Vatopedi monastery, which is located in Mt Athos became implicated in an alleged land deal scam when it attempted to acquire a conference centre built for the Athens 2004 Olympics. In return for the 40 million euro facility the monastery offered lake Vastonida in exchange. Greek media investigations revealed that not only was the lake obtained from the state by the monks in suspicious circumstances but that the monastery had been involved in a series of dubious land dealings throughout the country.

Under intense public pressure the conservative government of Kostas Karamanlis originally agreed to opposition demands for a vote on a possible parliamentary inquiry. However, In dramatic turn of events today the entire ruling New Democracy party has decided to abstain from tomorrow's crucial parliamentary vote at 6pm.

The resignation of the two public prosecutors assigned to the case citing political interference has simply added to impression amongst ordinary Greeks that the government is attempting to bury the investigation.

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