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Defendants in Greece’s 2018 Deadly Mati Fire Face Long Trial

ATHENS – More than four years after July, 2018 wildfires killed 103 people and nearly wiped out the seaside village of Mati, some 18 miles northeast of the capital, 21 defendants facing an array of charges will be tried Oct. 31.

The trial is expected to be lengthy – that of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn leaders and members lasted more than four years – and this case involves former officials from the previous SYRIZA government and municipalities.

That includes former Attica regional governor Rena Dourou, regional mayors and officials, as well as civil protection, fire service and police officials, accused of manslaughter and bodily harm through negligence through dereliction of duty.

But those are all misdemeanors after the leftists changed criminal laws to make them more lenient which means even if convicted there could be little or no jail time despite the big loss of life.

Escaping charges though was the SYRIZA leader and former premier Alexis Tsipras who said in the aftermath that he took only “political responsibility” although he was the head of state and charged with overseeing public safety.

A prosecutor wanted the charges against the defendants upgraded over the loss of so many lives but that was rejected, leaving them charged with lesser offenses such as manslaughter and bodily harm through negligence through dereliction of duty.

Also heading for trial is the man started the fire by burning materials in his backyard although he hasn’t been named for four years, as well as regional mayors and other officials as well as those in civil protection, the fire service and police officials who had mistakenly directed people toward the fire.

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