Greek station master jailed awaiting trial after fatal train crash | News

The Larissa station master faces multiple charges of disrupting transport and endangering lives.

A Greek railway worker has been jailed awaiting trial over a train crash that killed at least 57 people.

The 59-year-old’s detention on Sunday came as clashes broke out between police and protesters in the Greek capital, Athens.

Thousands of people had gathered in the city to demonstrate in favor of better safety regulations following the head-on collision between a passenger train and a freight carrier on the Athens-Thessaloniki route late in the evening of February 28.

The railway worker, who cannot be named under Greek law, was the station master in the central town of Larissa, where the train crash took place.

He faces multiple charges of disrupting transportation and endangering lives.

The transport security charge is potentially punishable by life imprisonment, according to the eKathimerini newspaper.

“For about 20 goddamn minutes he was responsible for the security of all of central Greece,” his lawyer Stefanos Pantzartzidis said.

Pantzartzidis previously said his client was devastated and had taken responsibility “proportionate to him”, but other factors were also at play, without elaborating.

Railway workers say the country’s rail network has cracked with cost cutting and underinvestment, a legacy of Greece’s debilitating debt crisis from 2010 to 2018.

Riot police operate against protesters during clashes in Athens, Greece, Sunday, March 5, 2023.
Riot police operate against protesters during clashes in Athens, Greece on Sunday March 5, 2023 [Yorgos Karahalis/ AP]

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who blamed the accident on human error, acknowledged that decades of negligence could have contributed to the disaster. “As Prime Minister, I owe everyone, but especially the relatives of the victims, an apology,” he wrote on his Facebook account. “Justice will very quickly investigate the tragedy and determine responsibility.”

Railway unions say safety systems across the rail network have been deficient for years because a remote monitoring and signaling system was not delivered on time. They called on the government to provide a timetable for the implementation of security protocols.

Mitsotakis said that if there had been a remote system in place, “it would have been, in practice, impossible for the accident to occur.”

In Athens, some 10,000 people gathered outside the large esplanade in front of parliament on Sunday to express their sympathy for the lives lost and demand better safety standards on the rail network.

“This crime will not be forgotten,” protesters shouted as they released black balloons into the sky.

A placard read: “Their policies are costing human lives.

Many of the crash victims were students returning from a weekend away.

At least nine young people who were studying at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki were among those killed on the passenger train.

Protests in Athens then turned violent, with police accusing protesters of setting trash cans on fire and throwing Molotov cocktails. Police responded by firing tear gas and stun grenades to clear the square.

Seven officers were reportedly injured, while five arrests were reportedly made.

#Greek #station #master #jailed #awaiting #trial #fatal #train #crash #News