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Politics

Negligence Case Grows in Mati Fatal Fire, More Witnesses Testify

ATHENS – An investigator running into obstacles while trying to find out whether was negligence by former Radical Left SYRIZA officials and others in the July, 23, 2018 wildfires that killed 102 people and devastated the seaside village of Mati is being buttressed by witness testimonies.

Dozens of fire and other officers and witnesses on the ground indicated the Hellenic Fire Service especially mishandled the response although the government of former premier Alexis Tsipras had no disaster plan and was accused by critics of bungling the attempt to control the fire.

Judicial investigator Athanasios Marneris for two years has been examine the case file and former government and fire department's alleged mismanagement that is bringing out stinging discoveries, said Kathimerini.

“The police had adequate forces to assist in a safe evacuation plan. However, the head of the fire service never issued such an order,” Konstantinos Voutelas, a retired firefighter serving in the Northeast Attica Directorate at the time, told Marneris of the failure to evacuate Mati.

“The distance between Marathonos Avenue and the sea is 500-600 meters, which means that the average resident could have been in a safe place near the water within 15 minutes. We had the time and the personnel to carry out an evacuation… We were ready to go, but the order never came from the fire department,” said an officer with the Traffic Police, which would have been responsible for directing motorists to a safe exit route. He was not named.

A prosecutor is reviewing the allegations and will rule on a petition by Marneris to elevate the charges against certain fire service officials to felonies which has been twice denied, not stopping him from persevering.

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