Tensions flared during the trial – ‘Shame on you, you have no respect for the dead’ chanted by the audience
In the chapter of personal responsibilities for the tragedy in Mati proceeded to today’s second day of testimony in the trial for the case, o arsonist Dimitris Liotsos expert of the Prosecutor’s Office on the causes of the hectumbi left behind by the fire in Eastern Attica on the afternoon of July 23, 2018.
The expert, answering questions from the Chair, testified about the persons who should have mobilized the Fire Department on the day in question and also the previous day, as well as about the coordination that should be done in time with the Air Force and the Coast Guard for the surveillance of the Attica.
As Mr. Liotsos said that day and after the fire in Kinetathe Fire Department should have been alerted and to have been given order of general vigilance to all the forces in Attica from noon and not after the fire had surrounded the Eye. The witness repeated that given the forecast of a fire at number four on the danger scale, aerial surveillance should have been ordered from the previous day. For this serious oversight, the witness said to the president’s question that the then commander of the Unified Operations Coordination Center (ESKE) was responsible for aerial surveillance. He also explained the entire procedure followed in similar cases, saying that the request for aerial surveillance is sent by ESKE to the General Aviation Staff either the day before for the next, or until 8 am of the same day. The witness has clarified from the previous meeting, when his testimony began, that the request crucial to the development of events was not sent on time and that it was finally sent at 9:59 on July 23, 2018. As he said, the request was also sent to the Coast Guard, but the aircraft he has, a Cessna type, could not fly due to weather conditions. Mr. Liotsos repeated that before this situation, the GEA addressed a private aero club that “picked up” an aircraft after 2 in the afternoon.
Chairman: For the aerial surveillance that you say did not take place, which of the defendants should have given the order?
D. Liotsios: Since the degree of danger is 4, the order should have been given by ESKE to the Air Force either the day before or the day after by 8 am.
Chairman: Which of the defendants is responsible?
D. Liotsios: The Commander of ESKE.
The witness pointed out that “The ESKE commander has the general order, but he does not act of his own accord. He must get permission from the natural leadership. He must have informed her.”
The witness emphasized, giving yet another link to the omissions that were made, that “since the temperature was predicted to be over 38 degrees and winds of 6 Beaufort, care should have been taken to relocate the aircraft.” He also quoted the forces that were available that day, saying that nationwide there were 56 air force aircraft available and that 15 were available for Attica, of which 5 were seaplanes. He also added that “There was exclusively for aerial use, a Pezetel with a capacity of one ton of water. In order to use these, there must be a request from ESKE to GEA”.
The expert received a series of questions from the president who asked for the procedure to be clarified, as well as the hierarchy followed in making the critical decisions
Chairman: With whom did he have to consult (ESKE) about the aerial surveillance aircraft?
D. Liotsios: The request is under the responsibility and supervision of the deputy head of operations.
Chairman: Did the deputy chief have to give the order?
D. Liotsios: He could do it himself. The deputy leader can talk to the ESKE and say “these things happened”.
Chairman: the chief;
D. Liotsios: The Chief must be aware of everything, that all the prescribed actions have been taken.
Chairman: Does the Chief himself have an obligation?
D. Liotsios: He has all the responsibility of the Fire Department. Everyone should inform him.
Chairman: On 23/7/18 was there aerial surveillance in Attica?
D. Liotsios: Done but with visible club aircraft. Because it was late for the request to be sent by ESKE. Instead of 8.00 the paper arrived at 9.59. I don’t know why this delay happened.
Chairman: Could Pezetel put out the fire in Gerania?
D. Liotsios: He could calm her down. Fires are extinguished by terrestrial means. There were chances that it would be suppressed. So we would win the first twenty minutes which are decisive. The first shot could buy time. Before the start of Kineta he could supervise a Pezetel. The rest could also be used, but for reasons of economy of forces they are not used, because they can be used in forest firefighting.
Chairman: Was there an aerial option from the Coast Guard?
D. Liotsios: There is a Cessna, just for surveillance. With a corresponding request it could be used. ESKE made a request in the morning, but it did not take off due to weather conditions. When the request arrived at 09.59 the air force could not respond and therefore turned to the private air club, which accepted the request. At 14.04 a light aircraft took off. His second flight at 16.16 is not listed. The second flight is not listed in the handwritten logbook, only in the aviation document.
Chairman: The private air club under whose jurisdiction would we meet?
D. Liotsios: Of ESKE
The expert clarified that during the second flight of the air club’s plane, at 4:16 p.m., the fire had not yet occurred at the Dau Pentelis site. The fire marshal determined the start time of the fire at around 16:30 with the first announcement to the fire department being made at 16:41.
According to the Fire Department officer, who investigated all the data recorded about the fatal fire, the order for a general alert to the fire brigade was given on the afternoon of July 23 and after the fire from Dau Pentelis had now descended to Mati and Neos Wooja. As Mr. Liotsos said, “it was an ineffective general alert” and he explained that “At 1:30 p.m. an order for a general alert should have been given, since the evacuation of citizens in Kineta had begun. At 5:30 p.m. when the order for a general alert was given.. less than an hour no one would have time to be at his service. At 7 o’clock the fire had already reached the sea. The services of Attica should have been on alert and all vehicles should have been manned.”
Before the second part of the expert’s testimony began in the morning, the defense submitted an objection to the capacity in which Mr. Liotsos is testifying, requesting that he not develop his thoughts and judgments in court and only answer questions. At the same time, they requested that his testimony up to that moment not be accepted and that the court order that it be deleted from the records. The basis of the issue, which was raised by the defendants in the previous session, is that the defendant “Has taken the oath of an expert and not a witness”, as argued by one of the lawyers. The defense attorneys said that Mr. Liotsos cannot read his notes that are not included in the case file but only consult them.
The positions of the lawyers representing the 21 defendants provoked strong reactions from the victims’ lawyers who asked for the defense’s request to be rejected, stressing that the defendant is “the most important witness in the trial”. I also pointed out that Mr. Liotsos has testified to the Investigator that he has received threats, but also that his vehicle was sabotaged, for his expertise. “If they didn’t like the expert opinion, they could insult it and request the exception of Mr. Liotsios. They are coming today, after he has testified 37 times as a witness in the interrogation, to say that he is not a witness…”, noted one of the of Class Support counsel.
The Prosecutor asked for the defense’s objection to be rejected, pointing out that both qualities, expert and witness, can coexist. He also asked, for special reasons, he said, that the court allow the appellant to consult his notes, without reading them.
As he said to the loud applause of relatives of the victims: “It is admitted that what was testified was filed and it should not be deleted from the minutes.. Mr. Liotsios can consult notes, not read” and asked the court to allow the witness for special reasons the use of notes.
There was no shortage of tension in the room when a defense barrister referring to “football conditions” in the courtroom, called for victims’ relatives to be thrown out for commenting, sparking tension as some in his audience shouted “shame, you disrespect the dead” when defense attorney said that no one “respects the accused”.
In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that it will accept the examination of Mr. Liotsos both as a witness and as an expert witness, allowing him to use, but not read, his notes.
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