Mitsotakis: Higher fines, prison sentences for arsonists

Mitsotakis: Higher fines, prison sentences for arsonists

Fines will be increased and convicted arsonists will have to serve their sentence in jail even in cases of negligence, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday, during a parliamentary debate on the handling of the massive wildfires that have destroyed swathes of forest land in Greece over the past two months.

“We had a difficult summer, which is not over yet as the fire in Evros is still burning. Our first goal is to seek answers and converge on solutions. The climate crisis is here, increasingly threatening all of us,” Mitsotakis told lawmakers and expressed his support to all those affected by the wildfires.

The ongoing blaze in Evros, the European Union’s largest wildfire since the bloc started keeping records, was particularly difficult and “will be studied for many years by scientists,” he said, adding that authorities observed a “fire cloud” (a thunderstorm created by the heat, moisture and pollutants that fires send can upwards and can create, in turn, lightening and more fires) that “had not been observed since the 2018 wildfires in California,” he said.

He acknowledged, however, that “based on the results”, the handling of the blaze “did not match” the severity of the fires.

Mitsotakis said ha the cause of the coninuing fire in Evros is being investigated. “It is almost certain that the cause is man-made. And it is almost certain that it was lit on routes used by illegal migrants,” he said, wihou providing further details.

Mitsotakis insisted that the government has funded prevention measures though not all municipalities were equally prepared. “Not all fires have the same ecological importance. Not all fires have the same impact on the environment. All burnt acres are not of equal value,” he continued.

Concerning the wildfire on Mount Parnitha, near Athens, he said that it was immediately detected by the police and the first water dropping helicopters were at the scene a few minutes after it broke out but this “was not enough” to contain it.

On the big wildfire on Rhodes that prompted the evacuation of thousands of tourists in the midst of the high season, Mitsotakis argued that only a small part of the total burned area was seriously damaged. 


Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.