July 13, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Mati: confession of the former deputy chief of the fire brigade in failures and mistakes during a deadly fire


Failures and errors in the operational response to the deadly fire in Mati, which claimed the lives of 104 people, were admitted during his testimony by the former deputy chief of the fire brigade, Vassilis Matteopoulos, who was appointed to the post of chief of the fire brigade after the national tragedy.

“I want to express my grief and sadness for the wounded, for the dead and in general for those who suffered. I don’t want to say anything more, because it was the most tragic day of my life.” With these words, the former chief of the fire brigade, Vasilis Matteopoulos, opened his series of testimony in court.

The accused denied the charges attributed to him and, referring to specific provisions, stated that he did not bear any responsibility for what brought him to the dock, pointing to the side of the head of the corps. According to him, he had no authority over air assets.

“It was not my responsibility, I was not involved and could not exercise operational control of air assets. Control is always carried out with the approval of the fire chief. Managing them was the difficult part. There were firefighting zones where we had more air assets, but after economic “during the 2011 crisis, our country was unable to obtain air assets,” Matteopoulos said.

According to Matteopoulos, in the case of watercraft “The order and approval can only be given by the chief of the fire department”and in the case of the movement of fire engines – the head of the fire department.

“This was not within my competence, I did not participate and could not exercise operational control of air assets.”

Mr. Matthaiopoulos also called it a “mistake” to divert the helicopter to Motor Oil at the direction of his boss.

“There shouldn’t have been a distraction. It could have been done in other ways. If I were the chief, I wouldn’t have sent this, I would have sent something else. To his credit, Fostieris said he received a call from Motor Oil executives. In his In the first application, I asked for a list of incoming and outgoing calls, which shows who I am talking to. When you are in office, you have to make some decisions. The decision he made was as follows. He did it because he wanted to every fire to have at least a reliable broadcast,” – said the accused.

“I am not in a position to answer why this did not happen.”

Matteopoulos was asked why the public was not informed about the development of the fire, at least through the media, and he gave his own answer, which made a particular impression on the relatives of the victims, silently observing the process associated with the loss of their families and what they themselves experienced and are experiencing in the most tragic way.

Chairman of the court: Why was there no information about the direction and progress of the fire through the media at an earlier stage? People deprived of information probably wanted to leave. For some it turned out to be good, for others it was bad. People had to know what to do.

Accused: I cannot fully answer you why this did not happen. The fire department also has a press service, there is a press attaché, and they are always attacked on the orders of the chief. Maybe this would help. Maybe it didn’t occur to anyone.

Chairman of the court: Why didn’t this happen?

Accused: I can’t answer you. This could be done by representatives of the press service and civil defense. And I have a family, three children who suffer. After retirement, many people forget about you. I try to remain calm, I give you all the explanations and clarifications. There’s nothing to hide. In every incident there are bound to be omissions and mistakes. There is also something that you told me, but it didn’t occur to me – I’m really sad because there was no press conference.

“I heard about the deaths after Tsipras’ interview.”

Regarding his knowledge of the first victims, when questioned by prosecutor Panagiotis Maniatis, he stated that he had cross-examined the people who were burned after finishing an interview given in the presence of then Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Prosecutor: When did you find out about the deaths?

Accused: Emergency services reported injuries and possibly two deaths. This did not happen. At 23:00 I did not specifically know about the existence of the dead. Completing the interrogation after 00:15, I heard not from the firefighters, but from the police that there were burnt people.”

The trial continues with the testimony of former ΕΣΚΕ commander I. Fostieris.



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