Prosecutors file charges against 20 officials over deadly E. Attica fires

Greek prosecutors filed charges on Tuesday against 20 people, including a regional director, mayors, government officials and police and fire brigade officers, for negligence in the deadly fires that killed 100 people in East Attica in July 2018 and injured scores of others.

Charges were filed against Attica Regional Director Rena Dourou, Mayors of Marathonas Elias Psinakis and of Rafina Evangelos Bournous, former Secretary General of Citizen Protection Ioannis Kapakis, and officers of the Hellenic Police and the Fire Brigade, among others. Charges were also filed against a 65-year-old man who is responsible for starting the fire at Daou Penteli, one of the rivers of fire starting on Mt. Penteli and overtaking parts of East Attica.

Prosecutors Elias Zagoreos, Nikos Fistopoulos and Costas Spiropoulos filed misdemeanour charges, per case, for arson as a result of negligence; manslaughter by continuing negligence; and continuing bodily harm by negligence. These carry sentences of up to five years in jail, and exceptionally up to ten years.

There was no liability for another four persons, whose case files were archived.

The prosecutors, who found liability both before the deadly fire and during its occurrence, noted among other issues lack of coordination and a series of mistakes and omissions in managing the fire by all officials and agencies named above.

The prosecutors took depositions from nearly 350 relatives of fire victims, and poured over conversation logs such as between the police and Fire Brigade, as well as examining videos from the event. Their files also contain specialist reports and on-site investigations, along with suits filed by victims’ relatives.

In October 2018 they summoned 21 people for explanations, and found 20 of these liable to prosecution.

The case file will now be turned over to an investigating magistrate.

Concurrent with the main case are another six separate briefs filed for liability. These include the Navy and Army; urban planning violations; inconsistencies in the Fire Brigade’s response system; questions into why aircraft were not allowed to fly from Eleusis airfield; and a brief sent to Parliament for potential political liability.