Ex-fire chief sentenced for threatening Mati fire investigator

Ex-fire chief sentenced for threatening Mati fire investigator

Former Greek Fire Chief Vasilis Matthaiopoulos was sentenced to two years and six months in prison, suspended, by the Thessaloniki Mixed Jury Court on Friday for attempted unlawful coercion and breach of duty.

The charges arose from allegations by forensic expert witness Dimitris Liotsios, who reported being pressured and threatened by the ex-chief during his investigation into the 2018 deadly Mati wildfire in east Attica that left at least 102 dead.

Relatives of the victims applauded as the sentence was announced.

Matthaiopoulos, absent from the trial, accepted the coercion charge but denied the breach of duty. In a statement, he apologized to Liotsios and the court, asserting his absence was not out of disrespect.

Liotsios testified about threats from Matthaiopoulos, including pressure to falsify his report and cover up the responsibilities of fire service officials in the tragedy. Despite increased pressure, Liotsios continued his investigation, leading to the alleged sabotage of his vehicle and its subsequent theft.

The case will be retried in an appeals court.

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