Priest Launches Acid Attack on Bishops During Hearing Into His Cocaine Use

Ten people including seven bishops were hurt when a Greek Orthodox priest doused them with suspected sulphuric acid ‘like holy water’ during a disciplinary hearing.
June 24, 2021, 10:19am
Priest Douses Bishops With Acid During Hearing Into Cocaine Possession
Police and media outside the Petraki Monastery in Athens, following Wednesday night's acid attack. Photo: AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris

An Orthodox priest facing a disciplinary hearing for hiding cocaine under his cassock has been arrested after dousing 10 people including seven bishops with acid.

In an incident that has shocked Greece, the 37-year-old priest, named in local media as Theofylaktos Kombos, is said to have pulled out two bottles of suspected sulphuric acid he purchase online and attacking bishops, synod lawyers and security guards, all the while accusing the church of hypocrisy for charging him.

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Witnesses said each bottle of liquid was two litres in size, and by the time security guards and police restrained him at least 10 people had been hurt. Three bishops remained in the hospital overnight, according to local press accounts, awaiting treatment for eye injuries and severe skin burns.

One witness told the local media that Kombos did not directly target any one person with the acid and was randomly flinging it “like holy water,” which likely prevented more serious injuries. 

The chaotic scenes broke out as senior bishops met for a disciplinary hearing in the Petraki Monastery in Athens to discuss the fate of Kombos, who stood accused of possessing 1.8 grams of cocaine in June, 2018 in the village of Alexandreia in Imathia province. At the time of his arrest, Kombos admitted to drug possession for personal use and had frequently clashed with other church members over financial irregularities.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis offered assistance to church officials in a call shortly after the attack, and “[offered] all possible medical assistance for the victims’ speedy recovery, according to the Associated Press.

Adding to the church’s legal troubles are allegations that a sect of runaway monks who seized control of monasteries in the Mt Athos region helped the convicted second-in-command of the neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn escape a 14-year jail sentence by disappearing while released on bail. And on Thursday in a separate case, another monk was arrested on charges of possessing child pornography on a church laptop in the Agrinio region.