Felony charges proposed for five over Mati fire

Felony charges proposed for five over Mati fire

After many months of proceedings and deliberation, the Athens Council for Criminal Procedure unanimously decided on Friday to criminalize those responsible for the deadly fire in the eastern suburb of Mati in 2018, ruling that the investigation should be continued for five defendants, then senior Fire Service officials, so that their charge is upgraded from misdemeanor to felony.

The members of the council examined the mistakes, omissions and operational activities of the 27 individuals who played a key role in dealing with the fire.

In a 300-page report, they adopted the proposal of chief investigator Athanasios Marneris that the evidence substantiates criminal charges for five of the accused.

The panel concluded that based on all the evidence in the case file, there are serious indications that the five defendants exposed people to lethal danger during the wildfires that resulted in the death of 102 victims.

They are not being charged with negligent homicide as proposed by the prosecutor. The council ruled that 12 defendants, including former regional governor Rena Dourou, the then mayors Ilias Psinakis and Evangelos Bournous, and the former general secretary of civil protection, Yiannis Kapakis, committed “misdemeanors of negligent homicide and bodily harm.”

That is, they will stand trial for misdemeanors as proposed by the prosecutor. 

The council also proposed that 10 defendants (mainly firefighters, police or regional councilors) be acquitted as they found no evidence of guilt.

The case file is now being returned to investigator Marneris, who will forward it to the competent prosecutor. In turn he will be tasked to file additional criminal prosecutions. Marneris will then immediately summon the five defendants, within a few days, for additional testimonies, this time under felony charges.

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