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Greece arsonists to face stiffer sentences: minister

By AFP

May 15, 2024 11:07 PM


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Greece's civil protection minister on Wednesday warned that arsonists would face stiffer sentences, as wildfires started earlier than usual in the Mediterranean country.

"The penal code has changed, negligent arson is no longer a misdemeanour," Vassilis Kikilias told private Talk Radio, referring to modifications that entered into force this month.

"Especially if a single life is lost," Kikilias said, adding that perpetrators can face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to 200,000 euros ($217,000).

In April, there was anger after a Greek misdemeanours court handed suspended sentences to six out of 21 suspects over the country's deadliest fire disaster that claimed 104 lives in 2018.

A senior minister later commented that the sentence was "not commensurate with this kind of tragedy." A state prosecutor last week appealed against the sentences.

Greece has seen higher-than-usual temperatures in past weeks and a lack of rain over the winter and spring months.

In April, nearly a month before the official launch of the fire season on May 1, a fire burned at the Pierian Mountains in central Greece for four days.

Local officials later blamed the outbreak on a lack of snowfall.

Kikilias on Wednesday said Greece would utilise 15,000 full-time firefighters, another 2,500 seasonal firefighters and had hired a further 700 specially trained forest commandos.

Athens has also ordered seven Canadian-made DHC-515 water bombers, to be delivered from 2027, and has requested an upgrade of older aircraft.


AFP


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