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Greek prosecutors charge 20 over deadly wildfire in Mati

Greek prosecutors charge 20 over deadly wildfire in Mati
FILE PHOTO: A house burns as a wildfire rages at the village of Mati, near Athens, Greece, July 23, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis -/File Photo -
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Alkis Konstantinidis(Reuters)
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ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek prosecutors charged 20 people, including a regional governor and two local mayors, over a wildfire that killed 100 people in the seaside town of Mati and nearby areas last July, a judicial source said on Tuesday.

Most of the victims couldn’t escape from a maze of poorly planned streets in Greece’s worst wildfire disaster. Authorities were accused of a slow response and lack of coordination in rescue operations.

The charges include involuntary manslaughter and causing bodily harm due to neglect, the source said. Prosecutors have drafted a 292-page report that details “a series of mistakes” in handling the disaster.

The accused include Rena Dourou, the governor of Attica region, which includes Mati; Elias Psinakis, mayor of Marathon; and Evangelos Bournous, mayor of Rafina and Pikermi, all towns in the region. The accused have denied any wrongdoing.

Greece’s judicial system has several preparatory stages and the compilation of charges does not necessarily mean that the individual will face trial. An investigating magistrate is now expected to take over and look into the case.

The government attributed the fire to arson and dismissed accusations that it failed to evacuate people in time, saying that unlicensed building had thrived under previous governments.

Mati, a heavily wooded area on the coast east of Athens overlooking the sea, was popular with pensioners and children at summer camps.

Other prosecutors are also investigating separate cases linked to the Mati fire, following citizen lawsuits.

(Reporting by Constantinos Georgizas, writing by Renee Maltezou, editing by Larry King)

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