Verbal episode inside the courtroom with victim’s relative: “Shame on you, two days of lying”
The tone was raised in the trial for the tragedy in Mati, when the former Minister of Citizen Protection Nikos Toskas claimed in his testimony that in the interview given late at night on July 23, 2018, when the fire had now reached the sea, in the presence of the then prime minister, there was no mention of dead because “there was only unconfirmed information” about casualties.
The position expressed by the former minister, who was in the Three-member Criminal Court for the second day, regarding the interview in question, angered a relative of the victim who started shouting in court that the witness was lying.
The citizen’s outburst came with the answer given by the former minister to a question he received from an advocate in support of the Class and then a clarifying question from the president of the court.
Counsel: At 12 o’clock at night, the existence of the dead was unknown to the service?
Nikos Toskas: There was unconfirmed information from before… from firefighters.
Chairman: What does unconfirmed information mean?
Nikos Toskas: Firefighters said they heard of a dead person… nowhere in the world unconfirmed information is not taken as fact.
Victim’s relative: Shame on you! You’ve been lying for two days!
Nikos Toskas: (about the man who was shouting) He was cursing me even before I entered…
Victim’s relative: We are paying this gentleman! Let’s not make a play in here….
Advocate: What did you see, what did you hear, while you were at ESKE (Unified Operations Coordination Center)?
Nikos Toskas: There was unconfirmed information. When Mr. Anagnostakis (Deputy General of the Fire Brigade Dimosthenis Anagnostakis) left ESKE and went to Mati and saw dead people, that’s when we said it. The effort at that time was to save the living.
Victim’s relative: Shame on you! Same on you!
The witness was also asked about the matter of the preventive evacuation in the area of Matiou, which had been successfully done a few hours earlier on the disputed day in the area of Kinetta, and testified that there was no time, nor was a relevant proposal made, and thus such a thing was never discussed possibility. When asked by a defense attorney to explain why he referred to a “proposal for removal” at the press conference, Mr. Toskas replied that “It was wrong information.”
According to the witness, on that day the camps of Agios Andreas were evacuated as there was a fear that the fire would reach the site and it was deemed imperative to rescue the hosted children. However, as he said, the legislative framework is different for Mati and he emphasized that there was no relevant proposal.
Advocate: Did you discuss whether the public will be informed?
Witness: There was no time. The development of the situation was rapid.
Advocate: Shouldn’t a decision have been made to help the other population as well?
Witness: There was the legislative framework… No such thing was discussed…
Responding to questions regarding the allegations of the then-accused Fire Chief Sotiris Terzoudis regarding the minister’s interventions in operational matters, Mr. Toskas denied that he gave management orders to deal with the fire.
The witness testified today that the Police delayed closing Marathon Avenue, adding that the police could not cut off access to Mati to drivers who wanted to go see their homes and people.
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