Athens’ prosecutor said on Tuesday that he had prepared documents to bring a case against 27 people to trial, including some senior officials from the previous SYRIZA government, due to a fire that destroyed the seaside resort of Mati in 2018, which killed 102 people and dozens were injured.
The case mentions former Attica Governor Rena Dourou, former Civil Protection Secretary General Yiannis Kapakis, former Marathon Mayor Ilias Psinakis and current Greek Fire Chief Stefanos Kolokuris, who was head of the Special Disaster Management Unit (EMAK) in 2018. In addition, the list contains the names of several high-ranking officials of the fire service, the Greek police (ELAS) and civil protection. It also mentions a 70-year-old man who started a fire while burning branches outside his home in the Dau district on Mount Pendeli.
Depending on their official role at the time, these 27 individuals were charged with negligent manslaughter due to inaction of law enforcement officials and personal injury due to negligence committed by failure to act. Both charges are misdemeanors. The person who started the fire will be charged with unintentional arson.
The 680-page report from Attorney Georgios Polikratis is a slap in the face for the officials involved, as it speaks of “a combined, convergent negligent behavior that led to a tragic outcome.”
Citing the reasons for the tragedy, the prosecutor notes that the state was “unprepared”, that there was “insufficient” mobilization of firefighters and that the authorities “failed to assess” the danger posed by the fire. He also found that not all available ground and air forces were dispatched immediately, given that a fire had also erupted in Kinetta, western Attica, while there was no proper operational control of the fire planes.
The prosecutor’s report will be considered by the Administrative Offenses Judges’ Council, which, if he agrees, will pave the way for a long-awaited trial, more than four years after the deadly fires.
The fire broke out on the afternoon of July 23 and quickly spread to the coastal towns of Mati and Kokkino-Limanaki east of Athens, destroying houses and forcing residents and tourists to flee. Due to the illiterate actions of the traffic police, people frightened by the fire were sent to the road, where hundreds of cars got stuck in a traffic jam, which did not allow them to escape from the fire and, as a result, led to large casualties.
The fire department also tried to respond to a fire in nearby Neos Wutzas and a fire in Kineta that broke out earlier in the day.