Greek Journalists Want SYRIZA Ex-Minister to Stop Kathimerini Suit

July 22, 2020

ATHENS – Backing an investigative report in the newspaper Kathimerini said to reveal an attempted cover-up of the mishandling of the July 23, 2018 wildfires that killed 102 people, the Athens Journalists’ Union ESIEA criticized former citizens’ protection minister Olga Gerovassili of the Radical Left SYRIZA for suing the publication.

"Journalists must disclose the information they have when they serve the wider public interest, without fear of warnings or legal threats from politicians, who have an increased ability to respond publicly to complaints against them," the union said.

A recording made by arson investigator Dimitris Liotsis showed he was being threatened by then Deputy Fire Brigade Chief Vassilis Matthaiopoulos with being posted to a remote spot unless he buried the truth to protect SYRIZA.

A male voice making the threats cites an "order" by the "minister", warning him "not to write anything…nor that any culpability lies with your superiors; the minister told me this, saying 'call him (Liotsios), and tell him: Don't write that the mayor or Dourou or anyone is at fault, or any service or the forestry service'."

The minister in this case, in Greek, uses the feminine version of the noun, meaning a female minister but it wasn't indicated if it meant then Attica Regional Governor Rena Dourou or someone else.

Gerovassili, in that post during the fires, sent an extra-judicial petition to the paper demanding that it correct and retract the "slanderous, false, derogatory and, in all instances, illegal references" to her person, otherwise she would "proceed with the next steps," an indirect threat of legal action, a tactic commonly used in Greece to prevent investigations or prosecutions against them.


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