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Greek woman sues minister and officials over family's death in fire

A WOMAN whose family died in last month’s devastating wildfire in holiday resorts near Athens filed a criminal lawsuit today against seven officials, including Greece’s Interior Minister Panos Skourletis.

Mr Skourletis joins former public order minister Nikos Toskas, the local mayor and regional governor and the former heads of the fire department, police and civil protection agency as targets of the suit, which accuses them of intentional homicide and exposing the public to danger.

Barbara Voukaki lost her husband Grigori Fytros, 13-year-old daughter Evita and 11-year-old son Andreas to the flames.

Ms Voukaki said she was “certain that their deaths, like the deaths of tens of our fellow citizens, could have been avoided if the state apparatus and its incumbents had operated as the law requires.”

The suit says officials failed to clear public areas of flammable materials, did not co-ordinate emergency services and didn’t promptly warn citizens of the need to evacuate. A parliamentary decision to lift immunity will be needed to prosecute a sitting minister.

This week police put the death toll from the terrible blaze at 96.

Greece’s Syriza-led government has been heavily criticised for seeking to evade responsibility for the fires and spreading reports, later ruled out definitively, that they had been set deliberately, which might have distracted attention from the increased fire risk as a result of the government’s EU-directed privatisations and spending cuts.

Electricity workers’ unions had warned that the national grid sell-off would lead to maintenance cuts and a greater risk of fires, while a whistle-blower revealed in 2017 that half the country’s firefighting aircraft were grounded through age or lack of parts, while Athens continued to splurge money on military aircraft.

 

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