ATHENS – A former PASOK minister still serving in Parliament said Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras – who ordered the razing of 3,185 unlawful buildings in the aftermath of wildfires that killed 91 – personally suspended the razing of illegal structures.
Yannis Maniatis, whose party went defunct after backing austerity measures and has been assumed by the new center-left coalition Movement for Change, said Tsipras gave the order not to demolish the buildings even after legal remedies had been exhausted by owners and occupants, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said.
Maniatis posted the text of the draft amendment, the minutes of a Parliament debate and other documents on his personal Facebook account, after the New Democracy Conservatives, who PASOK served in a previous coalition, also said SYRIZA stopped demolitions almost as soon as taking office in January, 2015.
Unlawful buildings were blamed for the high death toll in the seaside villa of Mati, northeast of Athens, where a fire consumed 98 percent of the homes, where unlicensed structures blocked people’s path to the sea and safety.
Tsipras’ government, which has allowed the practice of unlawful buildings to be erected to continue so owners could be fined to bring in money for state coffers, said unlawful construction was a major cause of so many casualties, with haphazard development, unlicensed structures and people essentially building wherever they want, including on state property, with impunity.
“In November 2015, by order of A. Tsipras to (ministers) P. Kouroumblis and I. Tsironis, an amendment was tabled to suspend demolitions. After our intervention, and again on orders … (by Tsipras), it (draft amendment) was withdrawn and re-submitted in another draft bill,” the former minister charged, mentioning another two ministers in the Cabinet then.
Giannis Tsironis, who Maniatis alludes to, is a founding and prominent member of a tiny ecologists green political party in the country, which joined in the coalition with SYRIZA to get in power, otherwise unable to do so since their following is so tiny. Kouroumblis is now Shipping and Island Policy Minister.
There was no immediate response from the government to the charges.