Greek farmer charged with starting big forest fire

Greek farmer charged with starting big forest fire

14 September 2009

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Greece —

A Greek farmer has been indicted for allegedly starting a fire that ravaged forests and communities north of Athens last month.

Court officials say Athens prosecutor Dimitris Gizis charged the 59-year-old suspect with arson on Monday. The farmer faces a minimum five-year prison sentence if convicted.

The farmer denies allegations that he started the flames on Aug. 22 by trying to burn a wasps’ nest on his land near the town of Grammatiko.

The fire burned out of control for six days and charred 80 square miles (210 square kilometers) of forest and hillside scrub _ an area more than three times the size of Manhattan.

Nearly 300 buildings, mostly homes, were destroyed or damaged.

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