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The last moments of Marfin Bank's employees, who had been burned, come back to life in the courtroom

30 April 2013 / 17:04:50  GRReporter
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The dramatic moments that followed the arson of the branch of Marfin Bank during the first mass protest against the Memorandum of financial aid to Greece on 5 May 2010 came back to life again in the courtroom. The relatives of the three employees, who had perished, presented in their testimony the last shocking conversations with the victims.

"I am choking" were the last words of Angeliki Papatanasopoulou, who was three months pregnant. Her husband Christos Karapanagiotis described the last moments of the bank employees in his testimony:

"She called me as soon as she realized that she could not be saved, after she had done everything possible to escape from the fire. The only entrance and exit of the bank was locked and no employee was able to leave it normally. They were doomed to a horrible death. I would not leave them to die like rats on the premises."

Other witnesses, including bank employees, accused the bank management of the absence of any fire protection and emergency exit.

The fire in the branch of Marfin Bank on Stadiou Street started after previously unknown persons with covered faces, angry that the employees were at work despite the strike announced by the trade unions, attacked the bank and threw Molotov petrol bombs inside. In late January this year, GRReporter published the testimonies of four witnesses who had described before the investigating authorities the cruelty with which the attackers had assaulted the bank branch.

"Her plan was to leave at 3 pm because at 4 pm, she had to see the doctor, who was following her pregnancy. She had called me shortly before 2 pm, obviously in a state of panic, and told me very intensely "They have set fire to us. I'll call you back." She hung up. I called her back immediately and she said, "I cannot talk now. I'm choking." She hung up again. Then, I called her again, but she did not answer me," said the husband of the victim.

"I was holding the railing of the adjacent building. All were screaming as if they were lost. We have been waiting for three years already to hear an apology at least," the colleague of another victim, namely Sotiris Papatzikis, told the judge.

"Women were climbing the stairs, running and shouting "fire, fire, they are burning us ... ". Within a few minutes, it became impossible to breathe in the room. I jumped from the balcony, because I had no other choice. I thought that all of them had died because there was no emergency exit to leave the building. All our actions were sporadic, just because we did not know what to do. We were not trained. We lost time because we did not know what to do," said witness George Golias in his testimony.

George Stavrogiannakis was the most explicit and firm employee as regards the responsibility of the bank's management:

"The bank does not recognize its fault, nor does it want to compensate us. We are not accused of anything, but at a meeting with members of the board of Marfin few days after the attack, which was attended by president Andreas Vgenopoulos, they stated in practice that we had had to break the orders."

The testimony of his colleague Sotiris Papatzikis was similar:

"We just want them to apologize to us and tell us why this had to happen. It's been three years, but the bank is still silent. Instead of an apology, the man for whom we were working asked us during the meeting why we had not taken the initiative to leave earlier, despite the orders that we had been given to stay in the bank. I wonder who would decide to do whatever he wants in a time of emergency ... The insurance company of the bank wanted to make an offer to the owner of the building, which housed the branch, but to no avail. A fire protection and fire-extinguishing system that did not exist should have to be installed for this purpose."

The hearing of the case will continue on 15 May with the testimony of other witnesses.

Tags: Crime newsArsonMarfin BankVictimsWitnessesTrialAndreas Vgenopoulos
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