The trial of 21 people facing charges over the deadly forest fire that swept through the seaside town of Mati on July 23, 2018 began in Athens on Monday, October 31, in a courtroom busting with people, woefully inadequate given the size and the complexity of the case: a national tragedy where 104 young and old, men, women and children lost their lives and over 30 were injured.
In addition to 21 defendants and their lawyers, present were also more than 200 witnesses and survivors and their dozens of lawyers, relatives of victims, dozens of journalists and photo-reporters.
Arriving at building 9, the witnesses found themselves facing the small courtroom which in no way could satisfy the needs of the trial.
The courtroom was so small that it could not host even all defendants, how much more the lawyers of both sides, the witnesses, the audience and the representatives of the press.
“There were there were lawyers who …watched the start of the trial behind railings and outside the windows,” reports news website libre.gr
The result was “disappointment” and one word was everyone’s lips: “Shame!”.
Survivors, witnesses and victims’ relatives who waited for 4.5 years to get justice angrily commented that the Justice knew and should have taken all the necessary measures and appropriate space in time to conduct this trial, while lawyers shouted from outside “Shame! find a bigger room.”.
The presiding judge announced to the standing crowd that during today’s meting only the statement of representation of the defendants’ lawyers will be able to be made.
Yet, the courtroom was so packed that many of the lawyers were unable to even enter it and had to stand outside the window to declare their presence at the trial.
The proceedings were adjourned and will resume in a larger room of the First Instance Court on November 7 to conduct further procedural aspects of the trial.
In subsequent meetings, 40 or 50 relatives of the victims will be called each to testify in support of the charge, and after this round is completed, the examination of the witnesses will begin.
The hearing of the case to follow at a later date in a larger courtroom.
However, the lawyers requested the transfer of the trial to the large courtroom of the Court of Appeal.
Among the defendants referred to trial for the deaths in Mati fire reportedly are: the elderly man who allegedly caused the fire, the former regional governor of Attica, Rena Dourou, mayors of the region, as well as officials from the Civil Protection, the Fire Service and the Police officials for errors and omissions in the prevention and extinguishing of the fire as well as the handling with the aim of saving human lives.
More information on th devastating Mati fire here on KTG.
This is like adding insult to injury. Don’t expect any justice. The State will never punish its own hard.
This trial must not be allowed to time out by exceeding the time limitations law, the people of Greece must get answers to prevent it happening again. Those who by their actions or omissions caused the death of fellow citizens and destruction of property should be held to account, anything else is corruption and the government needs to take measures to avoid this.