Attica Regional Governor Denies Blame in Deadly Greek Wildfires


Former Attica Regional Governor Rena Dourou. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Vasilis Rebapis)

ATHENS – Attica Regional Governor Rena Dourou, widely criticized for her response to the July 23 wildfires that killed 99 people in the seaside village of Mati northeast of the Greek capital, said she was blameless.

In a written statement to prosecutors investigating the conflagration and why the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition didn't have evacuation orders or a disaster response plan, Dourou said while the area was under her jurisdiction that she's not responsible for the chaotic response or the loss of life.

The regional authority, she said in her statement, is not responsible for “putting out fires or carrying out evacuations without the recommendation of the Fire Service,” without saying what her responsibility is then.

In what was said to be a lengthy statement given to investigators by her lawyer, she said that firefighting is not under local government but that her office is only to provide logistical support if asked for it.

More than 20 officials are being called to testify over their roles and performance in the July 23 wildfires outside Athens that killed 99 people in the seaside village of Mati, most of which was destroyed in the inferno.

A number of lawsuits were brought by the relatives of those who died and who are charging negligence as the government didn’t have a disaster or evacuation plan and didn’t alert people in Mati to flee as the flames roared down a hill toward them. Officials could face charges including manslaughter, arson and exposure to danger, said the paper.