Illegal walls come down

Following two attempts this week that were frustrated by another civil service department, state demolition teams finally moved in yesterday on illegal sections of seaside villas in southern Attica. Escorted by police, Attica regional authority bulldozers knocked down the garden walls of two villas that had enclosed parts of the beach at Anavyssos, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Athens, despite last-minute threats of litigation by the owners’ lawyers – who even lay down in front of the heavy machinery in a bid to stop demolition. An attempt by the owners to have the demolition orders halted was rejected early yesterday by the Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court. The Attica regional authority is now poised to take action against another 20 illegal seaside buildings. While presenting legislation earlier this month that would effectively turn a blind eye to the tens of thousands of illegally built structures that disfigure Greece’s countryside, the government insisted that it would be relentless in the case of illegal buildings in forests, coastal zones or protected areas. Attempts on Monday and Tuesday to move in on the Anavyssos villas came to grief when a Finance Ministry department issued decisions calling for the suspension of demolition work. These decisions were revoked on Wednesday. Yesterday, Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou admitted that the civil service had behaved «absurdly.» She said that demolition would proceed, despite legal appeals. «(Owners of illegal homes) are just trying to buy time,» she said. «They never believed that we would really go ahead.»