ATHENS – 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 have been 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 Kathimerini.
Among others, prosecutor Ilias Zagoraios summoned Attica Regional Governor Rena Dourou – who has also been summoned to testify on the floods in Mandra, western Attica in November 2017, which left 24 dead – Marathon Mayor Ilias Psinakis, Rafina Mayor Evangelos Bournous, former general secretary for civil protection Yiannis Kapakis, former fire service chief Sotiris Terzoudis, former police chief Constantinos Tsouvalas and other high-ranking officers of the police force, fire service and coast guard.
Psinakis is also under investigation by prosecutors for the way in which aid for the fire victims was managed.
One of the lawsuits was against the ministers of the interior and citizens’ protection at the time, Panos Skourletis and Nikos Toskas. Their case has been sent to Parliament for investigation. Summoning suspects of crimes usually leads to prosecutions.
The summons came almost two months after the opening of an urgent preliminary investigation by Supreme Court prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou in the aftermath of the fire who backed off asking for further delays when she came in for withering criticism.