24 Oct 2008

Greek minister quits over land deal

8:01 am on 24 October 2008

Another cabinet minister in Greece has resigned after being accused of involvement in a land deal that has become a scandal engulfing the government.

Minister of State Theodore Roussopoulos - who was one of PM Costas Karamanlis's closest aides - denies any wrongdoing.

His resignation came after lawmakers voted unanimously to form a commission to investigate the land deal.

The BBC reports valuable state land was traded for less valuable land held by an Orthodox monastery on Mount Athos in 2007.

The exchange, with the Vatopedi monastery, reportedly cost the state about 100 million euros.

Mr Roussopoulos said he was quitting his post so he could defend himself against a "malicious and totally groundless attack".

Last month Merchant Marine Minister Georges Voulgrakis quit over the scandal, though he too insists he has done nothing illegal.


Parliament voted unanimously late on Wednesday night to set up a commission to investigate the deal.

A preliminary judicial investigation has indicated it was weighted in favour of the monks.

The monastery is 1,000 years old and one of the largest in Greece.