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Greek Police Close On Arsonists Who Torched Bank, Killing Three

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Three people in their thirties died in the attack. (Photo by Eurokinissi, file)

ATHENS – Almost 11 years after the firebombing of a bank that killed three employees – one of them pregnant – Greek police reportedly believe they can identify at least several of a gang of eight arsonists who did it.

The victims died from smoke inhalation on a second-floor balcony of the then-Marfin Bank in a central part of the capital during an anti-austerity riot on May 5, 2010 during chaotic scenes of violence.

Kathimerini said new evidence, including photos and a video has helped narrow down a range of suspects, said to be anarchists of the type who frequently hijack protests to attack police and symbols of capitalism.

The Marfin Bank’s CEO – who later died - the bank’s head of security and  branch manager were given sentences ranging from five to 22 years in 2013 for failing to train staff what to do in the event of a fire and failing to evacuate the branch.

An anarchist accused of setting the fire was acquitted in 2016. He is not among the current suspects, police said, according to the report but there were no other details, including why it took so long to produce photos and a video.

In May, 2020, Greece’s New Democracy government, on the 10th anniversary of the  deaths, said the case was being up again to try to find the perpetrators and those who aided them.

A Supreme Court appeal trying to overturn a lower court ruling awarding the families of the victims 2.24 million euros ($2.63 million) was withdrawn in what  Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis referred to only a "small token of moral obligation,” toward the dead.

The case was reopened by Public Order Minister, Michalis Chrysohoidis, who hold that position in an earlier New Democracy government when the murders occurred, the firebombers tossing in a Molotov Cocktails and demonstrators trying to block firefighters from making a rescue.

The compensation stemmed from the state's failure to protect life and property, justices ruled the as ex-Marfin Bank executives had been convicted on misdemeanor charges of failing to ensure that the bank branch in downtown Athens have adequate fire-detection and fire-prevention systems, as well as an emergency escape.

The victims, Paraskevi Zoulia, Epaminondas Tsakalis and Angeliki Papathanasopoulou, who was four months pregnant, stood helplessly on the balcony as people watched.

The major opposition Radical Left SYRIZA did nothing to try to find the killers, mocked New Democracy for also failing to find them and refused to take part in a ceremony with a plaque outside the former bank site  remembering the victims.

SYRIZA, in a statement, referred to "contemptibility and hypocrisy" by Mitsotakis, saying he was trying to exploit the deaths without the Leftists mentioning there was no attempt to find the perpetrators while the party was in power for 4 ½ years.

A government statement dismissed the attack, saying it was "terrifying and sad that those who never condemned, in writing, the murderers of wage-earners to invest again today in hate and divisiveness."