Criticism rained down on the police on Friday over the way they have handled the monks’ scandal so far, with the force denying special treatment to the church because of its powerful influence.

In a press briefing, police spokesman Christos Andreou rejected accusations of delays surrounding the investigation.

“We do not have the necessary evidence to proceed with any arrests,” he said. This is despite a slew of videos that have emerged which show a monk hitting a woman with a belt, and setting up a cross for a fake miracle.

The lawyers have protested the videos are doctored and called police’s handling “strange.” They have also raised concerns that some of the evidence has been tampered with.

Asked if there were concerns that the monks or any other implicated parties may leave the country, Christou underlined there are steps around that, such as issuing European arrest warrants if needed.

He rejected accusations that had it not been a case involving the church, police would have handled it differently. However, he confirmed that the attorney general, police chief and archbishop had been in touch and agreed that no steps would be taken by police until after last Friday’s Holy Synod meeting was over.

Andreou also told reporters that the force’s leadership was unaware of the fact that officers in civilian clothes were at monastery on March 5 when a group of hooded individuals were at the Osiou Avakoum monastery.

The attorney-general has ordered an investigation into the matter.

The officers were present during an operation ordered by Tamassos Bishop Isaias, who told police there would be a transfer of “valuable items” such as gold from the monastery to the bishopric, Andreou said.

Instead, there was also €800,000 in cash, of which the police were “unaware” of, according to Andreou.

MPs have vocalised discontent over the fact that instead of transferring the money to the police for investigations, officers simply watched the proceedings unfold without interruption. The cash went to the bishopric.

Two police officers were deployed to the scene for security purposes, Andreou specified but it has since emerged that more plainclothes officers were there. This has added fuel to the already raging fire, after far-right party Elam leader Christos Christou was also present.

Authorities have yet to confirm or deny rumours over the presence of the secret service during the operation, reportedly a relative of Bishop Isaias.

The spokesman told reporters he “could not say” when the money was finally taken in by the police, but by Friday officers were investigating it.

He specified that officers have searched the monastery multiple times but not the bishopric.