Greek parliament 'to probe monastery scandal'

The scandal rocked Greece and helped bring down the previous conservative government.

Greek parliament 'to probe monastery scandal'

Greek lawmakers decided on Tuesday to investigate suspect land swaps between the state and a wealthy monastery in a scandal which rocked Greece and helped bring down the previous conservative government.

The ruling socialists have vowed to clean up public life and dealing with past scandals will be key to imposing tough austerity measures to fight a financial crisis.

"We need to do this to find out where the money plundered from public wealth has gone," socialist MP Dimitris Tsironis told parliament.

"Do you want to shed light in the darkness? Do you want to make the culprits pay?" The government, which has a comfortable majority in the 300-member parliament, is under pressure by the EU and markets to cut its double-digit deficit and reduce its debt.

Opinion polls show people are willing to support harsh measures if these are just and applied fairly, if those involved in scandals are brought to justice.

Two conservative cabinet ministers resigned last year after investigation showed the powerful Vatopedi monastery got prime, state-owned real estate in exchange for low-value land.

The swaps were intended to settle the 1,000-year old monastery's land claims in northern Greece.

Local media had said that the state lost 100 million euros ($140.9 million) worth of land in the property swap. An investigative magistrate is still looking into the case.

Lawmakers voted early on Tuesday to set up a 19-member committee, which will hold its first session on Feb 1 and has to release findings by March 15.

The Vatopedi monastery, one of the largest in northern Greece's all-male monastic community of Mount Athos, has denied any wrongdoing.

Greece's parliament will examine whether to investigate four other scandals, ranging from wire-tapping during the 2004 Athens Olympics - also known as the "Greek Watergate" - to suspect government bond sales to state-run pension funds.


Reuters

Last Mod: 26 Ocak 2010, 17:06
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