A court in Alexandroupolis yesterday awarded the relatives of the 21 schoolchildren killed in Greece’s worst road accident some 7.5 million euros in compensation and apportioned most of the blame for the crash to the truckdriver who was carrying a load of plywood that sliced into the children’s coach. The court of first instance in northeastern Greece awarded 100,000 euros to the parents of each victim killed in the Vale of Tempe in April 2003. The middle-ranking court also ruled that the siblings of the dead students should receive 70,000 euros and their grandparents 20,000. The compensation should be paid by the parties responsible for the accident, the court ruled. The families of the victims had filed law suits against the insurance companies of the two vehicles; the inter-city KTEL bus company in Imathia, which owned the coach; the company that owned the truck and the Alexandroupolis-based Akritas wood-processing company which loaded the plywood. In a decision that could signal the outcome of the ongoing criminal trial, the court found the driver of the truck, Dimitris Dolas, 80 percent at fault for the crash. Constantinos Mavromichalis, the coach driver, was allotted 20 percent of the blame. However, the court added that the KTEL bus company was also responsible for the final outcome – as opposed to the cause – of the crash as the coach did not meet safety standards. Dolas, 45, was driving the Athens-bound truck when its load of plywood boards came loose, scything through the school bus coming from the opposite direction as it returned to the children’s home village of Makrohori. Dolas is currently standing trial on manslaughter charges and «breaching the security of transport» – a criminal offense – by speeding, overloading his truck, using worn tires and driving too long without stopping for a rest. Another five defendants, the owners and three employees of the plywood factory, are facing murder charges. The Volos court where they are being tried is expected to reach a decision next month.