March 16, 2005

Vavilis thought to be in Italy


Greek authorities are hot on the trail of a fugitive drug dealer at the heart of the corruption scandal bedeviling the Church of Greece, judiciary sources indicated yesterday.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the matter was discussed yesterday during a meeting between Supreme Court prosecutor Dimitris Linos and the chief Athens Court of First Instance prosecutor, Dimitris Papangelopoulos.

After seeking Apostolos Vavilis — who, despite his drug convictions, was sent as an envoy by Archbishop Christodoulos to oversee the election of a new patriarch of Jerusalem in 2001, and is believed to have maintained close relations with Greek and foreign intelligence services — in Greece without success, officials now believe the fugitive is in a nearby European country, possibly Italy.

Sources close to the investigation believe Vavilis may turn himself in the next few days — although similar speculation last month proved to be little more than wishful thinking.

Vavilis’s shady dealings with the Church emerged in the course of a spate of allegations of corruption, including involvement in trial fixing, and homosexuality among prominent clerics.

Posted by kshaw at March 16, 2005 06:03 AM