Greek Priest and Charity Founder Faces Trial for Alleged Child Abuse

Father Antonios

The trial of the founder of the Ark of the World charity ('Kivotos tou Kosmou'), Father Antonios Papanikolaou, and seven employees, began today at the Greek Magistrates Court but was adjourned until Thursday, April 4th. They are facing charges of beating and brutalising children living in the organisation's shelters.

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Greek Priest and Charity Founder Faces Trial for Alleged Child Abuse 1

This case comes after an investigation by the Prosecutor's Office for Minors into allegations of abuse. There are separate investigations into sexual abuse and financial misconduct by Father Antonios and his wife, Stamatia Georganti, who are accused of financial infidelity, embezzlement and money laundering.

The indictment alleges lavish expenditures by the couple, including property purchase and unexplained disbursements amounting to approximately 2 million euros, as well as the unauthorised withdrawal of €2 million from the organisation's coffers. Embezzlement charges against Father Antonios and his wife revolve around €470,000 discovered at the charity's premises, alongside an additional €300,000 unaccounted for in the charity's finances.

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Greek Priest and Charity Founder Faces Trial for Alleged Child Abuse 2

The current trial covers incidents between 2018 and August 2022 and includes charges of serious bodily harm, assault, and threats against the children. Father Antonios is accused of instigating these acts, allegedly knowing about or even ordering the violence as punishment.

The alleged abuse took place at Ark of the World facilities in Athens, Volos, Chios, and Kalamata.

The trial is expected to be lengthy, but was interrupted today due to health reasons reported by the priest's lawyer.

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