ATHENS – Five officials, including politicians and top management of Greece’s fire service who were in charge when wildifes struck on July 23, 2018, killing 102 people and devastating the seaside village of Mati could have misdemeanor charges upgraded to felonies.
That was the finding of the Athens Council for Criminal Procedure, which deliberated for months after hearing from chief investigator Athanasios Marneris, in a 300-page report, alleging there was sufficient evidence, but 10 others should be cleared, it was also said.
The members of the council examined the mistakes, omissions and operational activities of the 27 individuals who played a key role in dealing with the fire in Mati, where most of the deaths occurred, said Kathimerini.
That means the investigation will go further against the five accused, including SYRIZA former regional governor Rena Dourou, the then-mayors Ilias Psinakis of Marathon and Evangelos Bournous of Rafina, and the former general secretary of civil protection, Yiannis Kapakis.
The charges are for committing “misdemeanors of negligent homicide and bodily harm,” in the Radical Left SYRIZA’s response to the fires that ripped through forests and towns northeast of the Greek capital.
But former premier Alexis Tsipras, who said he would take only “political responsibility” for the failure to save lives, will not face any charges although independent investigators blamed the death toll on the government and fire service of a number of failures.
The panel concluded that based on all the evidence in the case file, there are serious indications that the five defendants exposed people to lethal danger during the wildfires, the paper said, but they won’t face negligent homicide counts. Those recommended to be cleared were mostly firefighters, police or regional councilors.
The case file will go back to Marneris, who will forward it to a prosecutor to file more criminal charges with the lead investigator to again summon the five defendants for testimony under new felony charges.