A woman recounted yet another heartbreaking moment of unimaginable tragedy in Mati, when she was forced to leave the lifeless body of their brother and their friend with her mother in the middle of the sea to save themselves from the fire. Orders to save themselves..
Mrs. Vasiliki Miha told how his 23-year-old brother Victorus was lost and found them escaping the unbearable flames at sea. Weeping, the witness recounted how he, his brother, their mother and his friend Emilia Androulidakis had left the house by car that afternoon when they were surprised to see the fire.
“Panic came out of nowhere, all of a sudden,” the woman said, noting they were trapped in the vehicle. As they set off, they left the car and headed towards the adjacent sea, with the fire following them. “Had we delayed the departure by two or three minutes, the fire would have overtaken us and burned inside the car. No one to alert us.. to ring the bell… if someone had alerted someone we would have left, things would have been totally different… no oxygen. Burning pine cones fell on us. And in order not to burn, we ran into the water … “, he noted.
After a long time in the water, their friend didn’t make it and died, Ms. Miha testified. “My mother thought it was best to keep her by her side because she thought someone would pick us up. She wanted to take her to her children,” she said, after which her brother started complaining of leg cramps and said he wouldn’t do it. “When he realized Emilia wasn’t alive, he panicked. After two waves, Victor… left. He turned upside down.
My mother, I don’t know how she coped. He looked back at him and his face was black. I can’t believe he’s gone. He told me “Victor is no longer alive”. I was waiting for someone to come. I was holding him. He told me, “If you catch him, you will leave and so will I”. We tied a garment around the wrist so that it wouldn’t come apart. We only had each other and we were looking at the sky hoping someone would throw us a life preserver,” she told the court, barely making a sound as the witness tearfully testified. A devastated Ms Miha went on to say that at one point the waves had brought the bodies of the two women with them. “We were shivering from cold and exhaustion. I turn and say to my mother: “Are we going to die too?”.
She didn’t answer… her face was black… I knew that if mother went, I would also go… I wouldn’t come…” testified, at 11. At night, salvation came to them when a boat threw them two life jackets. “I was crying then. I don’t know what to feel. I left my brother. It’s like I’ve been cut in two…”, he sobbed uncontrollably. “We found ourselves at the mercy of God,” he said, adding that it was painful to arrive at Rafina port.
Referring to the agonizing wait to find her brother, the witness said: “His body was in the sea. We lived waiting on the phone to find out where he was, I don’t know… who deserves this kind of torture? We pray for his body to be recovered. We were told that it had been found and identified the following Monday. We couldn’t see him and say goodbye to him for the last time. We bid him farewell in a closed casket.
On my brother’s first birthday, my mother panicked, unable to bear it.” The witness, sobbing with the anger she felt, remarked: “Half an hour from Parliament, are we a European country? Where is the state? Aren’t we a little shy? Shame on us for what is happening. I now fear for my life every summer. I am afraid to live my life in this country because I know that there will be no one to protect me … where are the authorities? Where were they? If there is a war, I’m talking to all of you, what will happen? One by one our state fell like a deck of cards. What happened was a crime. You’ve heard all the accounts of people drowning, screaming of being burned alive, and no one doing their job. If one had done his job, most would have been saved.”
The witness’s mother, 23-year-old Victor’s mother Athina Moudabi, was shocked by the sight, saying in her testimony: “I saw Victor floating face down. I turned to him and I was talking to him and he didn’t answer. He was black all over. It’s the worst nightmare you can imagine for a parent. Looked ahead … Either I will go with him or let Viktor save Vasya … I don’t know how I did it, don’t ask me . Maternal instinct kicked in. I decided to take Vasya and leave. I have no words to describe those moments. Greek dictionary No words. Finally we continued. I pulled away from him. I wanted to scream…dive into the ocean and bring him back. I didn’t believe it, but I told her “we’ll make it”. We built it.”
Devastated and in tears, the woman kept the audience moving. “A gentleman passed us with the dead body of a woman, so that we should not be afraid. He did not know that I had left my two dear ones in the sea and buried my soul there. I did not care at all that they were going to save me. When the fishing boat came my child had a sense of security but I had no joy. No… I told Victor’s father “Our child is in the sea”. I felt it alone in the sea. .. I performed a funeral every day,” he said, calling for those responsible for the shocking disaster to be punished. The woman asked the court not to appear “below the circumstances” like “those in charge on the day of the fire”.
Mr. Anastasios Athanasopoulos testified in court about the loss of his mother, who was burned inside the apartment building in Matti where she lived.
The witness described his efforts to find his mother in the ruins, searching for her in hotels, various places and hospitals: “I found the entire apartment building where my mother lived on the sixth and eighth floors of Evangelismos.
I found her friend and she told me she was “trying to escape, we lost her somewhere”. I thought it was my duty to go home and look for her. Searching for her that night I lost seven pounds of fluid, my shoes burned, I was in my socks … I came home again. The policemen told me that there were many people who had been burnt… Searching the bags revealed a ring on the hand. At that moment I pictured the dead man lying in front of me. The witness, showing the photo to the judges, noted: “I called my wife and sent her the harsh photo, and when she saw the ring, she said that it was my grandfather’s and my father’s wedding rings. I gave it to my mother as a gift in one ring. They found her in the alley that leads to the sea.”
Mr. Athanasopoulos noted, “Beyond the investigation that a state should do, each of us is doing a test within ourselves to see who is to blame. I have been doing a test within myself all these years. Today, four years later, I dare to thank God that my mother went through this, because she was saved. Friends will be tortured, they will be tortured until they die not being able to tell what they went through… there was negligence on the part of the government, the government did not do its job properly, that’s why I blame him… negligence does not end responsibility… if my mother had been left, she would have been saved. Mathi all the cars. Who was asked to drive? I want to put all this down in memory of my mother.”
The hearing will continue on Thursday, January 19.
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