A deterred Greek Orthodox priest was charged Thursday with multiple counts of causing grievous bodily harm over an acid attack that injured seven senior bishops and three other people.
The 37-year-old Greek man was taken to court in leggings, handcuffs and under a heavily armed police escort.
He was arrested by a police guard late on Wednesday after allegedly throwing acid at the bishops after their announcement at a disciplinary hearing that he had been formally removed from the clergy for alleged misconduct.
The victims of the attack were hospitalized with burns, two in more serious condition. The arresting police officer was also admitted to the hospital with burns. Most were released Thursday.
Photographs of the site of the attack in central Athens, shown on ERT TV, showed bloodstains and acid burns on the walls of the room where the hearing was held, and on small desks where the bishops had been sitting.
Discarded black robes thrown by the bishops and attended by priests also had bloodstains and burns.
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The ruling Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church described the attack as “abominable and unprecedented,” confirming that the suspect had been removed from the priesthood after holding the lower rank of deacon.
Church officials said he was removed for “church and criminal acts”, including fraud and illegal possession of drugs, adding that he had made threatening posts on social media before Wednesday’s hearing.
The attack was also condemned by the Greek government, President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and the spiritual leader of the world Orthodox Christians, the ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew I, based in Istanbul, Turkey.
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Police have not said what caustic substance was used in the attack, but the suspect’s lawyer described it as sour when they spoke to journalists outside a courthouse where the charges were being prepared.
“The suspect … is a psychiatric patient taking strong medication,” said his lawyer Andreas Theodoropoulos. “He did not fully understand the consequences of his action … but responded to a perceived injustice.”