Stray Flare Death Ends Kalamata’s 200-Year Easter Tradition

May 1, 2019

Reversing insistence that an Easter tradition of people tossing flares would go on – despite the death of a cameraman hit with one of the incendiary devices – Kalamata Mayor Panayiotis Nikas said it will end after 200 years.

He had said that there was no way to prevent it from continuing because throwing flares to celebrate the holiday was part of the DNA of residents of the Peloponnesian city and said it might likely continue unsanctioned but not with municipal approval or participation.

He told the radio station of the state news agency ANA-MPA, that “No city council in the future will undertake the responsibility to continue supporting this event. I’m afraid that, after this death, this tradition has reached the end of the road.” He added that the city council had, so far, approved the staging of this event unanimously.

Costas Theodorakakis, a 53-year-old cameraman, was filming the event Easter night, when he was hit in the head by a flare. He died at a local hospital shortly after.

Nikas said he was afraid that the event, locally called the “dart war, was so embedded in tradition that it would continue to be staged, “in an anarchic way,” without saying if authorities would try to prevent or stop it.

He added that Theodorakakis’ was the only fatality in the 200 years the event has been staged and called for talks with the government, without saying why other that raising concerns there could be legal consequences over the death after the victim’s family complained bitterly that Nikas was being insensitive to the tragedy.

Seven people were detained and questioned, including a municipal official who staged the flare tossing but immediately released after appearing before an examining magistrate and given three days to prepare their defence. Only after a second appearance, on May 3 afternoon, will it be decided whether to press charges and detain them pending trial,

Easter can be a deadly time in Greece with rocket tossing, mini-artillery barrages, flare throwing and guns being fired off to honor Christ and police in Livadia detained a 54-year-old suspect over the stray bullet wounding of an 8-year-old girl.

Police said they had confiscated an unlicensed firearm. It has been sent for ballistic testing to ascertain if it was used in the shooting and reports said the man admitted to firing shots into the air to mark Easter.

Each year, during traditional Easter celebrations that include fireworks displays, it is not uncommon, particularly in rural areas, that some people discharge firearms up into the air, known as “balothies,” said Kathimerini, and some have been wounded or killed.

The girl was wounded when a bullet fell and hit her while she was playing with friends in the yard of her home, falling unconscious and then taken to a hospital where doctors removed the bullet. She was reported in stable but critical condition.


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