Relatives of Eight Mati Greek Fire Victims Sue State for Negligence

FILE - A woodcutter carves burned pine trees at the back yard of a destroyed house one month after a deadly wildfire tore through holiday homes near Athens, on at the seaside area of Mati, on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – Lawsuits against the Greek state are piling up over the July 23 wildfires that led to the deaths of 98 people in the seaside village of Mati, with the relatives of eight victims bringing action against high-ranking state officials, accusing them of criminal negligence.

The 65-page lawsuit names the former General Secretary for Civil Protection, Ioanna Kapaki, Attica Regional Governor Rena Dourou and Marathon Mayor Ilias Psinakis, as well as high-ranking officers of the Greek police and fire service, and the Rafina Coast Guard.

Charges range from manslaughter, arson and exposure to danger in a detailed account of the events that led to the death of the eight victims, said Kathimerini.

An investigation is currently underway into how the rampaging wind-driven inferno caused so many deaths, trapping people in their cars after they were mistakenly directed by police into the path of the oncoming flames.

Several survivors have filed suit against state agencies critics blamed for not having a disaster or evacuation plan, not giving any warning and reacting too slowly and haphazardly, leading to greater loss of life.

There are at least two private reports also being commissioned which have said there was a lack of coordination between the fire and police services and other agencies and as Dourou and Psinakis were said to have essentially hiding during the blaze and refusing to take any responsibility for the tragedy.