Prosecutors probing fire service chief over alleged conflict of interest

Prosecutors probing fire service chief over alleged conflict of interest

Prosecutors in Athens and the Hellenic Police’s (ELAS) Internal Affairs department are investigating allegations that the current head of the country’s fire service, Vasilis Mattheopoulos, violated public sector laws on conflict of interest by presiding over an annual evaluation of fellow officers in the aftermath of the deadly blaze in eastern Attica last year, Kathimerini has learned.

According to sources, the complaint, which was filed about two months ago, alleges that Mattheopoulos should have exempt himself from a fire service council meeting on January 31 that passed over or sent to retirement officers who, like him, were named as suspects or witnesses in the official probe into the deaths of 102 people at the seaside resort of Mati.

“He should not have participated in the assessment council, but should have abstained, as he could not be objective about these officers,” states the written complaint seen by Kathimerini.

Mattheopoulos is accused of violating article 254 of the Greek penal code which states that “an employee for whom there is a legitimate reason to be exempt from a case and knowingly withholds this fact is punished by at least three months in prison.”

Following seven months of investigations prosecutors in March brought charges of negligent arson, negligent manslaughter and grievous bodily harm through negligence against 20 current and former state officials.

The suspects include Attica Regional Governor Rena Dourou, Marathon Mayor Ilias Psinakis, Rafina Mayor Evangelos Bournous, former general secretary for civil protection Yiannis Kapakis, former fire service chief Sotiris Terzoudis and Vasilis Mattheopoulos – who was then deputy chief.

Charges have also been brought against the 65-year-old man who is believed to have started the blaze by allegedly burned wood outside his home on July 23, in the Daou area of Mount Pendeli.

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