world : Millionaire 'surprised' at allegations over Greek fire

world : Millionaire 'surprised' at allegations over Greek fire
world : Millionaire 'surprised' at allegations over Greek fire

Monday 1 July 2024 10:32 PM

Nafeza 2 world - One of Kazakhstan's richest men has denied wrongdoing after organising a party on a superyacht that is suspected of igniting a forest fire with a fireworks display.

Daniyar Abulgazin is one of eight Kazakh nationals who were on board the luxury vessel last month, and who are being prosecuted for complicity to arson by the Greek authorities.

The businessman rented the yacht Persephoni and was in the area when the blaze burnt through 300 acres on the island of Hydra, south of Athens.

Greece is grappling with its first heatwave of 2024, and firefighters have been battling several wildfires every day.

Initially, authorities alleged that fireworks were launched directly from the yacht, but now Greek media report they may have been launched from a beach on the island after people on Persephoni took a boat to shore.

The case has sparked outrage in Greece, further fuelled by reports that the yacht's passengers flew home shortly after the 21 June fire.

In a statement, Mr Abulgazin said he had rented Persephoni for a week, and flew home the following day - which was always the plan.

He said he had spoken to "representatives of the Greek authorities, who did not make any claims against me or my guests in connection with this incident".

He was "surprised" to later learn of the allegations being made, Mr Abulgazin said.

He added that he was “very saddened" by the fire, but that neither he nor his guests did anything that could have led to it.

"We strictly followed the fire safety rules established on the yacht. Neither I nor my guests asked the crew of the yacht or any other third parties to take any actions that could lead to a fire," he said.

He also promised full co-operation with the Greek authorities in their investigation. Kazakhstan has no extradition agreement with Greece so they are unlikely to have to go there to face questioning.

The yacht’s captain and first mate are still being detained, while 15 other crew members who were initially arrested have been released on bail with restrictions.

Mr Abulgazin is a major figure in the Kazakh petroleum industry, with a personal fortune estimated at $400m (£315m).

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