Residents can fight illegal homes

Residents have access to legal remedies that can help them secure the demolition of illegally built dwellings in their neighborhood when the authorities turn a blind eye, a top judiciary official said yesterday. Sophocles Haralambidis, honorary member of the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, told Kathimerini that residents wishing to rid their neighborhood of an illegally built dwelling can have recourse to a number of laws. «Each person should exercise his rights. He should find out whatever he doesn’t know by asking people around him. There will be someone who can explain things to him. People shouldn’t be scared,» he said. Haralambidis used his own funds to demolish an illegally built dwelling in a park opposite his Athens home. The legal expert said that he managed to push through the procedure without resorting to his professional connections. The advice comes at a time of heightened concerns regarding illegal building activity on Mount Parnitha, north of Athens, after devastating fires recently destroyed more than half of the national park. Legal loopholes and poor supervision by government bodies have resulted in thousands of illegal homes being built across the country. «What happened with the gathering of people outside Parliament was encouraging,» added Haralambidis, referring to a recent demonstration in central Athens where protesters called for the protection of the burnt national forest. «It was a very good start but there need to be more radical steps to rid ourselves of the present system – the political and party system which is unmoved by this,» he added.

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