Change of tack on east Attica fire probe

Change of tack on east Attica fire probe

The head of the Athens prosecutor’s office, Ilias Zagoraios, is to continue the investigation into July’s deadly fires on the eastern coast of Attica after Supreme Court prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou backtracked on her request to delay its completion until a report by a top public administration official has been taken into account.

Dimitriou had wanted the probe to continue until the findings of the General Inspector of Public Administration, Maria Papaspyrou, had been assessed.

However, her proposal triggered a storm of criticism both from the media and the political opposition, prompting her to retract it and ask Zagoraios to round up the probe.

The Athens prosecutor is expected to start calling suspects to give testimony in the coming days. Members of the eastern Attica regional and municipal authorities, the fire service, the Greek Police, the coast guard and the General Secretariat of Civil Protection are among those expected to be summoned.

Dimitriou’s suggestion fueled concerns of a long delay in the investigation, not least because Zagoraios’s term ends at the end of the month and his successor would take some time to get up to speed on the case.

There was also disbelief among certain judicial officials, Kathimerini understands, that a probe into a national tragedy that cost 99 lives could be delayed without good reason.

Sources at the Supreme Court Tuesday stressed that Dimitriou had not sought to delay the investigation, and assignation of blame for the fires, but to ensure that prosecutors were aware of the content of Papaspyros’s report about Mati, the coastal settlement in eastern Attica that was particularly badly hit by the fires. However, it transpired Tuesday that Papaspyrou’s report is far from ready. In comments to ANT1 television channel Tuesday, she said it would require three months for completion.

In a related development, Zagoraios Tuesday ordered a preliminary investigation into accusations of mismanagement by the Municipality of Marathon of donations for victims of the fire in Mati.

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