Greek Prosecutor Pushes Probe of Deadly Mati Fire

Αssociated Press

FILE - In this Tuesday, July 24, 2018 file photo, people stand amid the charred remains of burned-out cars in Mati east of Athens. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, File)

ATHENS – With a number of former ruling Radical Left SYRIZ officials facing investigation for failures to respond properly to July 23, 2018 wildfires that killed 102 people northeast of the Greek capital, a Special Magistrate is planned to look into the disaster that nearly wiped out the seaside village of Mati.

Senior Appeals Court Prosecutor Yiannis Moraitakis requested a session of judicial officials to assign the magistrate, said Kathimerini, saying he wanted to accelerate the investigation more than a year after the catastrophe happened with officials facing criminal charges.

But while new Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he would help restore Mati after former premier and SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras reneged on promises to make it a model town within a year, the home of one family affected by the fire was set for foreclosure before Development and Investments Minister Adonis Georgiadis blocked it, after protests.

“Following my intervention to the Hellenic Bank Association (HBA), the auction in question was suspended,” Georgiadis was quoted as saying by the Athens-Macedonian News Agency. “We will not allow a tragedy to destroy a family.”

In late August, Mitsotakis visited Mati and said he would help the victims and survivors of the fire that saw most of the village consumed by the conflagration.

“It is my personal commitment, and that of the government, to make Mati much better than it used to be and for it to thrive in a different, more sustainable way. And I think that’s the best way, after all, to finally heal the wounds caused by last year’s fire,” he said, Kathimerini reported

Tsipras had been blamed in a documentary on SKAI TV of trying to hide and downplay the death toll as the blaze roared over the countryside and as independent reports said his government’s response was confused, chaotic and led to more casualties through its negligence.