NEWS

Corfu hotel permit suspended

The government yesterday suspended the operating license of a hotel on Corfu where two British children last week died of gas poisoning, believed to have been caused by a leaking boiler. Tourism Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia said that the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel on the popular Ionian island would lose its permit for good if a police investigation finds hotel staff to blame for the deaths. «If the final findings show the hotel is responsible, the license will be revoked permanently,» a ministry statement said. «We will not tolerate incidents that blacken the image of Greek tourism and give our country a bad name,» Palli-Petralia said. In a statement issued yesterday, the hotel, which is closing for the season, insisted that it has complied with established safety standards and is cooperating with the investigation into Thursday’s deaths. «Safety remains a basic concern of our hotel. We strictly observe all safety precautions foreseen by Greek and European law,» the statement said. «In addition to regular annual checks, we also undergo the exceptionally strict inspections of the foreign travel agencies we work with,» the statement added. A Greek prosecutor is expected to file manslaughter charges later this week, although it is unclear whether these charges will be filed against hotel staff or external maintenance professionals. Meanwhile, amid mounting concerns about the incident’s impact on the Greek tourism sector, the country’s hoteliers protested at being stigmatized. «The Hellenic Chamber of Hotels objects to this attempt to exploit an isolated incident on Corfu in order to blacken the image of the entire Greek tourism industry,» the chamber’s president, Gerasimos Fokas, said. The bodies of Christianne and Robert Shepherd, aged 7 and 6, were flown back to Britain on Monday, accompanied by their mother. The children’s father Neil Shepherd, 38, and his partner Ruth Beatson, 28, who had been in the same hotel bungalow as the youngsters, also suffered carbon monoxide poisoning, according to medical tests, but have since recovered.