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MATI wildfire: Court verdict outrages relatives of 102 victims

Six years after the devastating wildfire in Attica’s seaside town of Mati and nearby areas, which claimed 102 lives and left dozens injured, a three-member misdemeanors court issued its verdicts on the 21 defendants on Monday morning. The verdict triggered an outrage among the victims’ relatives who keep demanding justice.

Six persons were found guilty of “manslaughter by negligence” and “bodily harm by negligence”, among them top officials of the Fire Brigade and the Civil Protection along with the elderly man who started the fire in Daou on Penteli mountain despite the gale-force winds.
Among those found guilty are then chief and deputy chief of the Fire Brigade
and the Civil Protection, the commander of the Unified Operations Coordination Center (ESKE), the former head of the Attica Fire Services as well as the then commander of the Fire Services of Eastern Attica.
Defendants were found guilty of manslaughter by negligence for 102 people and bodily injury by negligence of 32 people.
The defendants have been sentenced to 3 to 111 years imprisonment and thus by merger. The elderly who started the fire was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment.
However, the crimes have been deemed as “misdemeanor” with the result that they could serve up to 5 years in prison or write out the sentence with 10 euros for each day behind bars and walk free. According to calculation this would be around 40,000 euros per person, state broadcaster ERT reported.

At the same time, the court acquitted seven Fire Service officials. one police officer, the secretary general of the Civil Protection, the regional governor of Attica as well as three mayors and deputy mayors whose areas were hit by the fire.

Angry reactions by victims’ relatives

After the announcement of the verdict, victims’ relatives who had gathered at the court  broke in outrage shouting and cursing. Many broke into tears, while some threw chairs at the defendants. media reported.

“All innocent? There is no justice!” a victim’s relative shouted at the defendants.defendants.

“Damn you, you have no brains! Not even an apology!” another victim’s relative shouted.

An elderly woman who lost her daughter and her infant granddaughter in the fire urged defendants to look her in the eyes and tell her if they had lost a child. “I did not find my child to bury her.”

“Let’s start a fundraising… Shame…”, shouted another relative.

“If a public figure was burned it would be a felony. We only have graves and misdemeanor,” a young woman shouted.

“Today you are burning them again,” other relatives shouted as they moved towards the defendants shouting “shame on you.”

Only six of the 21 defendants were found guilty, while the elected politicians were acquitted. According to prosecutor’s findings, defendants were guilty of “lack of coordination, ineffective cooperation, incompetence, criminal mistakes.”

The trial lasted 1.5 years.

MATI Fire disaster

The wildfire started on 23. July 2018 in Daou Pentelis. Gale-force winds with gusts up to 11 Beaufort had the fire spread very quickly from the mountain down to several sea resorts on the coast of eastern Attica.

Without any aid from police, firefighters or the municipality and no coordination whatsoever, hundreds of people, young and old, Greeks and foreign nationals on vacation packed their children and pets and started to run to the sea to escape the fiery destruction coming from the mountain.

Majority of survivors were rescued from the seaside or the sea where they had to wait for help over several hours.

Many of the dead were burned or suffocated in the area, other died in hospitals.

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One comment

  1. There is something rotten in the State of Greece…

    How can “manslaughter by negligence” and “bodily harm by negligence” be misdemeanors? How can these people live with themselves anyway?