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Firefighters want stricter penalties for arsonists

16 July 2013 / 20:07:17  GRReporter
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"The time has come to show zero tolerance as a dogma of an organized and stable national policy against intentional fires," reads an article published by Yiannis Stamoulis, chairman of the association of fire service officers, on his personal website.

He argues that, for this purpose, a change in the attitude towards arsonists is necessary, namely that they should be immediately arrested and prosecuted. "Otherwise, we allow them to set a new fire," says the firefighter.

According to Stamoulis, the cause for and the perpetrators of a very large percentage of fires have not been established whereas, at the same time, 9 out of every 10 fires are caused by man.
 
"A very serious issue in addition to the problems which we face in fire prevention and extinguishing is the hand that sparks a fire. And this is because, in the majority of cases, people are responsible for the fires, whether they have started them intentionally or unintentionally. After so much damage, I think that even negligence must be considered as a serious criminal offence. The good attitude towards justice requires that all those who burn their country for one reason or another be identified and punished."

Despite the campaigns carried out by the fire service and the major summer fires in Greece, firefighters are faced almost daily with people who perform various activities, simply light a fire for a barbecue, or throw burning cigarettes in forest areas. This shows that the majority of them simply do not observe fire prevention tips.

The data of the fire service are indicative and show that 8,593 fires had broken out throughout the country in urban, agricultural and forest areas during the first five months of the year. Pre-trial files had been composed for about 5,759 cases.

6,098 of the fires were in towns whereas 4,099 of 5,759 investigated cases were also connected with fires in towns and villages. 55 of the 89 convicted under the fast-track procedure were found guilty of setting fires in agricultural and forest areas and 34 in cities. 10 of the 55 persons were accused of intentional arson and 45 of unintentional. Respectively, in the cases of fires in urban areas, 26 were convicted of intentional arson and only 8 of setting fires inadvertently.

Last year, 26,339 fires were registered in Greece, 14,991 of which were in urban areas. 19,354 pre-trial files were composed and 10,896 of the cases were related to fires in urban areas.

807 people were accused in connection with them, 658 of whom of intentionally causing a fire, 149 for unintentional fires and 215 were taken to the fast-track court. 462 people were charged with arsons in urban areas and 345 in agricultural and forest areas.

Today, the service to combat arsons caught another arsonist. He is Greek, aged 37 and is considered to have set on Sunday a fire in the forest area near the city of Heraklion in Crete. Yesterday, the employees of the service seized a woman, aged 55, on charges of causing a fire in the region of Megara near Athens.

Earlier today, a fire broke out in a region with dry grass in the seaside area Schinias near Athens which was extinguished by 25 firefighters and 11 fire engines.

Tags: Crime newsFiresArsonistsFire serviceCriminal prosecution
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