NEWS

Kalamata mayor backtracks on deadly flare ‘tradition’

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A day after he said that the officially sanctioned flare-throwing Easter tradition, which cost a cameraman's life Sunday, could not be stopped because it was in the city inhabitants' “DNA,” the mayor of the southwestern city of Kalamata now concedes that there's no way the city council will sanction the staging of this event in the future.

Speaking at the radio station of state news agency ANA-MPA, mayor Panayiotis Nikas conceded that “no city council in the future will undertake the responsibility to continue supporting this event. I'm afraid that, after this death, this tradition has reached the end of the road.” He added that the city council had, so far, approved the staging of this event unanimously.

Costas Theodorakakis, a 53-year-old cameraman, was filming the event Sunday night, when he was hit in the head by a flare. He died at a local hospital shortly after.

Nikas said he was afraid that the event, locally called the “dart war”, has been so well established that it would continue to be staged, “in an anarchic way,” even afther the city withdraws its official patronage. He added that Theodorakakis' was the only fatality in the 200 years the event has been staged.

Nikas also called for talks with the government on the subject, apparently meaning a sharing of legal liability or even deflecting it from the local authorities.

Seven persons have been questioned over the cameraman's death. They were released after appearing before an examining magistrate and given three days to prepare their defense. Only after a second appearance, on Friday afternoon, will it be decided whether to press charges and detain them pending trial, or not.