Five ex-officials convicted over deadly Greece fire but freed after paying fines

A court in Athens has convicted five former senior firefighting and disaster response officials over a 2018 wildfire outside the capital that killed more than 100 people.

The fire that swept through the seaside town of Mati, east of Athens, was the deadliest in the country’s history.

Residents and tourists, many trapped in their cars, were killed as they tried to escape.

The officials, including a former fire chief, received sentences of between 15 and 111 years for multiple counts of criminal negligence resulting in injury and loss of life.

But the presiding judge ordered that sentences could be served concurrently, capping jail time at five years.

All five convicted officials were let go and allowed to pay fines in lieu of serving their sentences, estimated at up to 40,000 euros (£34,000) each.

A sixth defendant, the owner of the property where the fire started, received a three-year sentence for negligence and was also let go.

Fifteen other firefighting officials, police, civil protection and local government officials were cleared of all charges.

Irini Maroupa, one of the lawyers representing the victims at the 18-month-long trial, told reporters outside the courthouse that her clients were bitterly disappointed.

“All sense of shame has been lost,” she said.

“The victims of this fire who died in horrific circumstances, and those injured who will suffer for the rest of their lives – and this was clearly illustrated in court – will never have the opportunity to find peace in their soul.”


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