Tempe charges reduced

The draconian charges against the man who caused Greece’s worst road accident were reduced yesterday to misdemeanor level, and truckdriver Dimitris Dollas was released on a 30,000-euro bail after over a year in pre-trial custody. A regional council of appeals court judges in Larissa – near the Vale of Tempe, where 21 schoolchildren died on April 13 2003 when a load of plywood on Dollas’s truck sliced into their coach – ruled that the truckdriver could only be charged with manslaughter. In April, Dollas had been formally accused of «murder with possible malice aforethought,» a charge used liberally after the killer 1999 Athens earthquake for people officially held responsible for particularly bloody accidents. But Dollas was still deemed yesterday to have shown «possible malice aforethought» in «breaching the security of transport» – a criminal offense – by speeding, overloading his lorry, using worn tires and driving too long without stopping for a rest. Another five defendants, the owners and three employees of the plywood factory, still face murder charges.