ATHENS – Greek authorities are investigating widespread unlicensed carnivals in the wake of the death of a 13-year-old boy and a serious injury to his 9-year-0ld sister at an illegal fairground for which four people are facing charges.
Lawyers for the defendants who include the fairground’s owner, an Italian man who rented equipment and two Bangladeshi workers, said the charges were improperly upgraded to felonies from misdemeanors, prompting a break in the depositions.
In his testimony, the 45-year-old father of the boy denied any responsibility and told police that employees at the site had not taken basic safety measures.
He didn’t say why he allowed his son and daughter to get inside a big inflatable ball that was floating on a big pool. A strong wind lifted it and smashed it into a metallic barrier about 100 feet away, it was reported.
Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis has ordered checks on all fairgrounds, playgrounds and playgroups in a bid to ensure such an incident does not happen again and for a review to determine how many are operating. He didn’t order the shutdown of the carnivals though. The accident happened at a fairground in Elliniko, on Athens’ southern coast.
Elliniko Mayor Christos Kortzidis wouldn’t take blame for his municipality allowing the fairground to operate or checking it. “We received no complaints,” he said. “Some people were waiting for this to happen so they could say ‘We told you so,’” he said. Police in Thessaloniki said they broke a criminal racket believed to have set up 36 illegal fairgrounds across the country. Five suspected members of the racket were arrested following a 10-month investigation, police said. Authorities said they had uncovered uncovered a ring responsible for setting up amusement parks all over Greece, using fake documents and security certificates. Five men, including three Greeks and two foreigners are involved in the case, officials said, charging that a ringleader created virtual companies using circuses and amusement parks in various areas around Greece and didn’t pay taxes or any revenues to the state. Investigators said the parks worked under forged signatures and stamps of civil engineers and mechanics, instead of having specialized professionals to consult regarding safety, submitting fake documents to municipalities. They also reportedly forged the official stamp of the Municipality of Thessaloniki, using it to authenticate the signatures on the certificates. Those arrested were charged with repeated forgery, false certification, fraud and infringement of the Law on Embezzlement of Public Wealth.