The mayor of the East Attica town of Oropos has expressed regret over an incident concerning the treatment of a troubled 69-year-old resident by the crew of a private ambulance service working for the municipality, describing the incident “like something from the Middle Ages.” In comments to Kathimerini, Mayor Giorgos Giasimakis said that he had contacted the private ambulance service hired by the municipal authority to seek explanations about the incident, which sparked outrage across social media on February 28, when a neighbor of the 69-year-old woman posted a photograph of her being hosed down as she lay naked on a blanket in the parking garage of her apartment block. According to reports, the ambulance crew was taking the woman to hospital after responding to a report filed by neighbors with municipal services expressing concerns about her living conditions and her physical and mental health. They removed the 69-year-old from her apartment, where they found her living in abhorrent conditions among piles of garbage, and took her down, undressed, to the garage where they hosed her down before placing her in the ambulance. “The image we saw was like something from the Middle Ages,” said Giasimakis. “There is no excuse for what they did.”

The European Railway Agency (ERA) has been warning successive governments in Greece, as well as the European Commission, since at least 2014 about safety gaps in the Greek railway system, according to ERA head Josef Doppelbauer, speaking to Kathimerini in the wake of last week’s deadly collision at Tempe. Asked to specify the period of time within which it has issued warnings to the Greek and European authorities, he said this was done “since 2014, at least. And we repeat these reports every two years.” Since the crash, Greece’s worst, reports have proliferated highlighting the shortcomings of the Greek system compared to the rest of Europe. “Over the years we have reported on various aspects of the issue. We have a legal obligation to produce a report every two years at European level, based on the information we receive from member-states. We have published the rankings based on the statistics on rail mortality in the member-states” railways,” Doppelbauer said. For years, he stressed, Greece has been ranked among the countries with high mortality rates. “This fact is a reminder each time that there are open issues that needs to be resolved within the Greek system,” he noted. The ERA chief said that within the framework of the agency’s responsibilities, it audits the Railways Regulatory Authority (RRA), and has identified a number of shortcomings and made a number of observations. “We have shared these with the Greek authorities, who have responded with an action plan which should be put in place. We have also raised concerns around the issue of the existence of an official body of inquiry into rail accidents,” he added. The main outstanding issue on the Greek rail network is the implementation of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), which Greece has committed to deliver by the end of 2023.

Jailed Greek MEP Eva Kaili has appealed to the highest court of cassation in Belgium in a fresh attempt to secure release from pre-trial detention. “We went to the supreme court, because in this way we manage to go from two months to one month in order to have the right to apply for a release from prison,” her lawyer, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, said in a written statement. Kaili was arrested on December 9 in Brussels and has been in prison for three months. She is charged with corruption, money laundering and membership in a criminal organization in a case that has been nicknamed Qatargate. The Qatargate scandal came to light in early December after authorities launched a series of raids across Brussels, and in Italy, seizing hundreds of thousands of euros. In addition to Kaili and her partner Francesco Giorgi, former MEP lawmaker Pier Antonio Panzeri and the head of a charity group, Niccolo Figa-Talamanca have also been charged. Panzeri has since reached an agreement with Belgian prosecutors to act as an informant. The former European Parliament vice-president’s pre-trial detention was recently extended by two months by judicial authorities.

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