ATHENS – A prosecutor in a trial of municipal officials charged over a 2017 flash flood that killed 25 people in the town of Mandra west of the Greek capital recommended guilty verdicts, including for the former regional governor, Reno Dourou, serving the then-ruling Radical Left SYRIZA.
She was among 21 people charged with offenses of criminal responsibility, including local and regional state services and then mayors of Mandra, Elefsina and Megara, and town-planning officials.
The prosecutor said they should be found culpable for negligence and manslaughter, causing physical injuries and not acting to have in place prevention for flooding.
The trial has gone on for 18 months and came after another long investigation into the conditions and events that caused such a fatality toll during a heavy rainstorm that struck, Greek towns often allowing haphazard building.
The prosecutor said the floods were caused by unlawful construction – that even state government have allowed in return for builders paying a penaltey to bring in money.
The prosecutor said the practice was allowed for political reasons and votes, and cited the omissions of state authorities, local government and regional authorities, but no prosecution of higher officials.
Dourou is being prosecuted on charges of alleged negligence for ignoring violations of building construction codes blamed for deadly foods in the town but initially refused to even show up in court, which isn’t required in Greece.
SYRIZA though downgraded penalties for serious offenses just before being ousted in July 7, 2019 snap elections by New Democracy,so the trial is being held in a misdemeanors court, the offenses not a felony.
Dozens of relatives of the flood’s 25 victims appeared at the first session on Jan. 24, 2020 but not Dourou nor other suspects, including government officials, routine in Greece.
The charges faced by local, regional authority and town planning officials include manslaughter through neglect, bodily harm, provoking floods through neglect, violating construction regulations and breach of duty, said Kathimerini.
In March, 2019, families of the victims also brought suit over the flash flooding made worse by unlawful construction damming up water and trapping victims in cars, rushing waters and even in their homes. They are seeking compensation for mental anguish.
They cited nine officials in their suit after prosecutors charged those responsible for ensuring safety had failed to do so, led by Dourou who’s also being prosecuted for fires management failures in July 23, 2018 blazes that killed 103 people.
In a statement issued by the legal office representing the three victims – Giorgos Alexiou, Dimitris Goutos and Serafeim Gortzas – said that they had been in a group of 10 people who had gone hunting when they were caught in flash floods.
The causes of the tragedy and role of state officials were outlined in a prosecutor’s report, the statement said, according to Kathimerini. Earlier reports said successive governments had allowed unlawful construction that blocked gullies and blocked water runoff, causing the disaster – which had occurred before and were just ignored.
The investigation into the catastrophic floods in Mandra, which also resulted in huge damage to homes and infrastructure, pointed to negligence by local and regional authorities, noting no flood prevention works had been carried out to avert such a big disaster.