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Prosecutor on Mati fires: “Lack of coordination, ineffective cooperation, incompetence, criminal mistakes”

A prosecutor investigating the causes of the deadly wildfire in Mati and eastern Attica in July 2018 proposed on Tuesday that a total of 27 people should stand trial for criminal negligence and omissions of state mechanisms and local authorities that led to the deaths of more than 100 people and widespread destruction.

Among those included are the former Attica governor Rena Dourou, the then-mayor of Marathonas Ilias Psinakis, and senior-ranking executives of the Fire Service and Civil Protection.

Among those referred to trial are a total of 14 Fire Service officials including the current head of the Fire Service Stefanos Kolokouris.

Also the former general secretary of Civil Protection Ioannis Kapakis and other officials of the service as well as officials of  the Hellenic Police (ELAS) and the Fire Service Dept of Piraeus in charge of boat means and others.

The 70-year-old man who was responsible for the fire that started in Daou Pentelis before it spread to the suburbs is also to be referred to trial according to the prosecutor..

They face charges of arson and homicide by serial negligence which also caused bodily injuries.

  • After the examination of thousands of pages of testimonies, communication recordings and other material, the prosecutor’s report bemoaned the lack of coordination, planning and the ineffective cooperation of the competent state authorities. It also referred to government incompetence and state disorganization and decried criminal mistakes.

More specifically the prosecutor’s proposal stressed among a long list of shortcomings that there was no necessary preventive aerial surveillance and insufficient mobilization of those responsible for extinguishing the fire.

Furthermore it noted that not all available ground and air forces were immediately dispatched while there was no proper operational management of the aircraft.

What’s more, it lamented the misdiagnosis of the size of the risk and a delay in diagnosing the criticality of the situation.

It also noted erroneous operational priorities in dealing with multiple fires that occurred in a short time and the unpreparedness of the state mechanism.

The proposal will be examined by the judicial council, and if it agrees, as is expected, the way will be paved for the trial more than three years after the catastrophic fire wreaked havoc.

The charges refer to misdemeanor offenses.

Characteristic for the failures of the Fire Service, the Police and other institutions were their responses to desperate citizens screaming for help. “Be patient,” they would advise the people who have called surrounded by the flames, according to the Mati leaks to the press.

sources: amna,  kathimerini

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