Mt. Athos, December 27, 2011
A website has been opened to gather signatures for a petition in support of Abbot Ephraim of Vatopedi Monastery. Abbot Ephraim was arrested on Christmas Eve (December 24, 2011), on charges of financial crimes that date back to a 2008 scandal involving politicians who have since been acquitted of any crime (see Greek Reporter).
Court of Appeals Judges’ Council in Athens on Friday decided that Abbot Ephraim of the Vatopedi monastery, one of the leading defendants in the highly publicized case concerning suspect land swaps between the monastery and the Greek state, be held in custody pending trial. A medical examiner who accompanied the prosecutor on his visit to the monastery with Halkidiki Police Director Konstantinos Papoutsis to execute warrant found Abbot Ephraim confined to his bed with high fever. The Abbot has also been diagnosed with blood sugar irregularity, a diagnosis confirmed by the medical examiner, reports Athens News.
Representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate have expressed their serious concern over the arrest, and many Russians intend to turn out today in front of the Greek Embassy today to protest the detention of a respected Mt. Athos abbot, who recently won the hearts of Orthodox Russians by bringing the Cincture of the Virgin Mary to fifteen Russian cities. The number of people who venerated the relic in Russia is estimated at about 3 million.