Prosecutors bring criminal charges against 20 people over deadly Attica blaze
Following seven months of investigations into the deadly fires that killed 100 people and destroyed parts of eastern Attica last July, prosecutors on Tuesday brought charges of negligent arson, negligent homicide and aggravated bodily harm by negligence against 20 current and former state officials.
The suspects include Attica Regional Governor Rena Dourou, Marathon Mayor Ilias Psinakis, Rafina Mayor Evangelos Bournous, former fire service chief Sotiris Terzoudis, the current head of the fire service Vasilis Mattheopoulos – who was then deputy chief – former general secretary for civil protection Yiannis Kapakis.
Charges have also been brought against the 65-year-old man who is believed to have started the blaze by allegedly burned wood outside his home on July 23, in the Daou area of Mount Pendeli.
The above crimes carry a prison sentence of up to five years which could, in exceptional circumstances, reach 10 years.
Although the charges are considered misdemeanors, the file will be sent to an investigative magistrate due to its seriousness.
The prosecutors acquitted four people whose names had been reported in lawsuits submitted by relatives of the victims and survivors.
According to information, the three prosecutors mention in their report a “complete miscommunication” among the competent authorities in handling the blaze, “chaos and a collapse of the system, general liabilities of the competent services, and criminal mistakes and omissions in addressing the deadly fire.”
The report does not include illegal construction as one of the causes of the blaze.
Prosecutors also reportedly mention numerous omissions in prevention on the side of the local government and blame the fire service, the police, regional authorities, the two municipalities in the region (Rafina and Marathonas) and the general secretariat for civil protection for lack of coordination and mistakes in tackling the fire.
The file composed on the deadly blaze which devastated the coastal town of Mati includes 350 witness testimonies and evidence collected during the probe.