May 25, 2010

Deacon Arrested For Trafficking "Relics" of Saints

Cleric, Swiss Man ‘Traded’ Bones

May 25, 2010

A 24-year-old deacon from Sidirokastro in Serres, northern Greece, and a 43-year-old Swiss national faced a prosecutor yesterday for allegedly trafficking in human bones, which they had tried to pass off as religious relics.

Police arrested the Swiss man at Thessaloniki Airport after finding dozens of human bones, three skulls and a silver feretory, or relic receptacle, in his luggage. The bones and skulls had been doused with scent and labeled with the names of various saints. According to police, the Swiss man had been due to fly to Germany and deliver the bones to a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church there, pretending that they were the remains of Orthodox saints.

Later yesterday, police arrested the Swiss man’s suspected accomplice, a 24-year-old deacon from northern Greece, after finding more than 500 human bones and 15 skulls at his home. They also discovered a 19th-century religious icon, a Byzantine cross, two rings and several ancient coins. The suspects face charges of theft, trafficking and desecration.