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Greek Orthodox Church sued in feud over Jewish hold on Old City property

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1202246326987&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull Feb 5, 2008 23:28 | Updated Feb 6, 2008 0:26 Greek Orthodox
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      http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1202246326987&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

      Feb 5, 2008 23:28 | Updated Feb 6, 2008 0:26

      Greek Orthodox Church sued in feud over Jewish hold on Old City property
      By DAN IZENBERG

      Three foreign investment companies which claim to have leased
      property from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate have sued the church
      and the current holders of the properties for NIS 5 million and asked
      the Jerusalem District Court to evict them.

      The lawsuit, which was filed on January 22, is the latest move in a
      legal battle that has been going on for three years. The fact that
      the companies claimed to have leased the properties - the Petra Hotel
      and the Imperial Hotel at the entrance to the Old City's Jaffa Gate -
      was first made public in Ma'ariv on March 18, 2005.

      Further investigation revealed that behind the leasing deals was
      Ateret Cohanim, a yeshiva and development company whose aim is to
      establish as many Jewish holdings as possible in the Old City.

      The companies that signed the lease were Berisford Investments Ltd.,
      Richards Marketing Corporation and Gallow Global Ltd. One of the
      companies is listed in Guernsey and the other two in the Virgin
      Islands. They are represented here by Israeli lawyers Ze'ev Scherf,
      Yosef Richter and Avi Segal.

      The plaintiffs wrote that they had leased all three properties in
      August and October of 2004 from Nikolaos Papadimas, who, on May 6,
      2004, had been given power of attorney by then-Jerusalem patriarch
      Irineos I to make and sign leases on behalf of the church as he saw fit.

      According to the plaintiffs, they had believed that the deal signed
      with Papadimas in the name of the patriarch had been made in good
      faith and had no reason to think otherwise.

      In November 2004, Papadimas fled after the church opened an
      investigation into the transactions. Meanwhile, Irineos I, who was
      later fired on suspicion that he had been behind the leasing of the
      buildings, filed a suit against the development companies that had
      purportedly leased them.

      He claimed he had known nothing about the leasing of the properties
      and that the purchasers had known that Papadimas was not authorized
      to lease the buildings to them.

      Renato Yarak, the Jerusalem-based attorney representing the Jerusalem
      Patriarchate, informed the companies that the church did not
      recognize the lease documents.

      "They were not signed legally by someone authorized to sign them in
      the name of my client, the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem, and
      were not confirmed by the authorized institutions including the Greek
      Orthodox patriarch and the Holy Synod. My clients deny receiving any
      payment from you for the alleged transactions. My clients will
      continue to use these properties on the basis of all their rights and
      either they or their protected will continue to hold and manage them."

      Scherf and Richter did not return phone calls from The Jerusalem Post.
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