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Court acquits 13 defendants for deadly flash-floods in Mandra

After judicial procedures that lasted one and a half year, a court in Athens acquitted 13 out of 21 defendants for the deadly flash floods in Mandra, west Attica, in November 2017, where 24 people lost their lives.

The three-member criminal court acquitted former regional governor Rena Dourou (SYRIZA) and twelve other people, while it found guilty eight other defendants.

Among the acquitted defendants were the then mayors of Megara and Elefsina as well as employees of the forest department, urban planning officials and employees of the stream policing committee.

In the case of Dourou, the court unanimously acquitted her of the offense of breach of duty and, by a majority of two to one, acquitted her of the acts of flood by omission of a person liable for homicide and bodily harm by negligence.

The court found a majority of eight defendants guilty, including two deputy regional governors, the then mayor of Mandra, foresters and officials of town planning and stream policing.

The guilt for the eight defendants concerns on a case-by-case basis the offenses of flood, homicide and negligent bodily harm, while they too were unanimously acquitted of the act of breach of duty.

On November 15, 2017, and following heavy rainfalls, rushing waters coming from the mountain flooded Mandra in less than an hour, sweeping away people, vehicles and whatever came into their way, turning the town in western Attica into a lake full of mud and disaster. On the first day of the floods, water height reached up to 1.5-2 meters.

24 people were drown, over 1,000 houses and businesses were completely destroyed.

An inspectors investigation issued 1.5 month later, found out that it was “human irresponsibility and bureaucracy” that brought the disaster and not “extreme weather conditions.” According to the findings report, the inspectors said that the rainfall was very heavy, and the simultaneous merging of overflow from two streams which had been filled in by construction played a very crucial role. Inspectors also pointed out the responsibility of the public services and agencies for the delays in implementing flood protection works, and the irresponsibility of local authorities, which created the municipal bus depot of Mandra over one of the filled-in streams.

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The procedure continued with the court to examine mitigation circumstances for those found guilty.  The sentences decision is scheduled to be announced on June 23.

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