Greek authorities have jailed the abbot of a 1000-year-old Greek Orthodox monastery pending trial for his alleged key role in a land swap with the state that blew up into a major political scandal.

Investigators have said the deal was weighted in favour of Vatopedi Monastery in northern Greece and cost taxpayers about 100 million euros ($A129 million).

Two government ministers lost their jobs over the swap, which the conservative government cancelled, acknowledging that it had hurt the public interest.

The scandal nonetheless contributed significantly to the conservatives’ 2009 general election defeat.

Abbot Efraim, 55, was led to Athens’ Korydallos prison on Wednesday after spending the night in the capital’s police headquarters, following a 600-kilometre journey from the Orthodox monastic sanctuary of Mount Athos – from which women and female animals have been banned since 1046.

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