Judge takes role as caretaker leader in Greece

Judge takes role as caretaker leader in Greece

A senior judge has been sworn in to head Greece's caretaker government for a month as the debt-crippled country lurches through a political crisis that threatens its membership in the 17-nation eurozone.

The political uncertainty is worrying Greece's international creditors as well as Greeks themselves, who have withdrawn hundreds of millions of euros from banks since the May 6 election.

Council of State head Panagiotis Pikramenos, 67, was appointed to head a government that will lack the mandate to make any binding commitments until a new election, which is expected on June 17.

His 16-strong Cabinet will be sworn in today.

About €700m in deposits have left Greek banks since May 7, the day after the election, President Karolos Papoulias told party leaders after being briefed by central bank governor George Provopoulos.

"The situation in the banks is very difficult," Mr Papoulias said according to a transcript of the meeting's minutes released on Tuesday night.

"Mr Provopoulos told me that of course there is no panic, but there is great fear which could turn into panic."

There were no queues at banks in Athens after the May 6 election, but Greeks have been gradually withdrawing their savings over the past two years as the country's financial crisis deepened, either sending the money abroad or keeping it in their homes.

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