05 November 2006

Christianne and Robert, RIP

Of the tragic deaths of the two young 'uns, I have nothing to add at this stage.

The island is rife with rumour and red herrings and anyone who isn't thoroughly confused is simply very badly informed.

But heads will roll, guys will fall, the dogs bark - and the caravan move on.

Meanwhile, the head-count looks promising:

  • Our Greek tourism minister, Fani Palli-Petralia, has been ordered  (my itals) to attend the children's funeral in West Yorkshire this week.
    • Poor bugger - can you imagine the barracking and general roughing up poor Fani will meet? Far from "pally", I'll wager.
  • Local fuzz confirmed six individuals and companies accused of negligence leading to manslaughter; negligence leading to serious bodily harm; and negligence leading to endangering human lives.
  • Police also say they've added an unnamed inspector who checked the hotel and found it suitable for Thomas Cook clients.

    Apparently, the 'inspector' visited the premises and signed his approval on June 30. Whoops.

  • The 'inspector' and the other defendants, whose names police cannot disclose (Why not? Typiquement Greek, that), will be summoned to testify in their defence next week by our chief examining magistrate.
  • Heavy stuff: The manslaughter charges carry a maximum sentence of five years' imprisonment for the death of each child (my emphases), and legal beagles guess the multiple charges could carry jail terms of between 15 and 20 years.
  • But get this. A Thomas Cook spokesperson categorically confirms that "no charges have been issued against the company or any of its officers by Greek police or other Greek authorities.

    "We can also confirm that at no time during this enquiry have the police or any other authority been in touch with us. We wish to make it clear that we will stringently defend our position against any criminal charges and, in view of these reports, have instructed Greek lawyers."

    Oy vey! This is so-o-o familiar ....

  • Also accused are some big-shots, so look out for weighty backhanders and calling-in of favours for these lads to slither through the net: The chief exec officer of culprit Louis Hotels
  • The general manager of the Corcyra Beach Hotel
  • The maintenance manager
  • A rep of Corfu liquid gas company - PLUS the company which supplied the bungalow's heating and cooling system.

Bad timing for Palli-Petralia who'd been looking forward to a triumphant visit this week to the annual global trade fair in London, singing Kerkira's praises as the very model of a modern tourist paradise. Ugh - the UK press will have its cutlasses out.

Red Rag to a Minotaur: And listen to this for sheer crassness and provocation. One "Sean Tipton" of the clearly bogus Association of British Travel Agents (or why would they allow this buffoon to shoot his mouth off?) is, according to an excellently thorough Athens News report, 'optimistic that the deaths will not have a negative impact on next year's tourism figures.'

Quoth Tipton, "People tend to have a fairly short memory when it comes to booking holidays ... the busiest period for summer holidays is January and February. It won't be at the forefront or people's minds when they come to book."

Know what? After that comment - and ignoring the 'short memory' of the grieving families - if I was any sort of editor or sleuthing reporter, I'd mark my diary for every single date in the tourism calendar and run monoxidal reminders to readers to include 'breathing healthy' (or just breathing, period) at the forefront of their minds when choosing an idyllic sunshine holiday destination.

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