Minister says ‘serious indications’ of arson behind deadly wildfire

Minister says ‘serious indications’ of arson behind deadly wildfire

In what was seen as a bid Thursday to minimize the political cost of the natural disaster in eastern Attica, government officials did not rule out the possibility of arson.

In a press conference Thursday Alternate Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas cited indications that pointed to arson.

“We have serious indications of criminal acts… lots of fires appeared in a very short period of time,” he said, and referred to a “suspicious find” in Mati – the area worst affected by the wildfire.

He also said that he handed Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras his resignation but it was not accepted.

He insisted that he could not identify “big operational mistakes” in the way the fire was tackled.

Other officials placed the blame on the shortcomings of past administrations.

Speaking to the BBC, Panos Kammenos, the leader of junior coalition partner Independent Greeks, said that “this is a crime from the past.”

He added that “this coast of Athens, all these properties, the majority are without a license, and they have occupied the coast without rules.”

Later on, in an interview on 24/7 radio, Infrastructure Minister Christos Spirtzis announced that a probe will be launched into construction licenses in Mati.

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