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GREECE: Priest who acted as drugs mule thought he would be above suspicion, court hears

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3 Kilos of cannabis found in priest's luggageA PRIEST who has admitted to carrying almost three kilos of cannabis from Greece to Cyprus was yesterday referred for trial before Criminal Court on May 16 on drug trafficking charges.

The 37-year-old priest, a Greek national who has been living and working in Cyprus for the past decade, was arrested last week at Larnaca International Airport after arriving from Athens.

“He considered himself beyond any suspicion and was sure he would not be caught, which is why during his journey he did not, even half-heartedly, try to conceal the drugs,” state prosecutor Margarita Avramidou told the court.

Following a drugs squad tip-off, a customs officer at Larnaca Airport asked if he could go through the priest’s luggage during customs control.

The priest said he did not have the keys to one of his suitcases so the officer broke the lock, finding three packages containing a total of 2.98kg of cannabis.

“I made a mistake,” the priest told the customs officer.

The 37-year-old, father to a young child, said he had financial problems because his wife is sick and has been treated in Greece for the last six months.

The priest said that he got €1,000 and his plane ticket paid in return for carrying a suitcase and had never done anything of this sort before.

He went to Athens, picked up a locked suitcase and was going to hand it over in Cyprus, he said.

He said that he was told: “Don’t worry, no one will suspect a priest”.   “I swear in my priesthood (this is true),” he told the court.

The priest who lives in the Nicosia suburb of Dhali and preached in a small church will be held in custody until his trial. The Archbishopric denounced his “abhorrent actions” in an announcement last week.