Police authorities in Thessaly, central Greece, arrested a criminal gang for illegal trade of icons and other items of religious and monetary value.
Four Greeks were arrested, two men and two women, along with a 42-year-old man of Albanian origin. One of the Greek members of the gang was a 34-year-old priest. The suspects were arrested while trying to sell items estimated to be worth 60,000 euros to an undercover policeman. The authorities found two wooden religious icons and a book dating back to 1765. During a search of the priest’s home, police found an old Evangel dating to 1866, four reliquaries, a wooden icon depicting St. John the Baptist and an amulet within a metal case. The priest also handed over to police officers a carved wooden cross which he had stolen from a church in Trikala, Greece.
The police are trying to determine the scale of the gang’s illegal activities. The five appeared before the Prosecutor of Misdemeanours in Larissa and will face charges of being part of a criminal organization and breaking Greece’s strict antiquities law.