17.4 C
Saturday, June 10, 2023
HomeWorldGreek stationmaster jailed pending trial after deadly train crash

Greek stationmaster jailed pending trial after deadly train crash


The Larissa station master faces multiple charges of disrupting transportation 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 man’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 for better safety regulations after the head-on collision between a passenger train and a freight carrier on the Athens-Thessaloniki route late on the evening of February 28.

The railway official, who cannot be named by Greek law, was the station master in the central town of Larissa, where the train accident took place.

He faces multiple charges of disrupting transportation and endangering lives.

According to the newspaper eKathimerini, the transportation security levy may carry a life sentence.

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

Pantzartzidis has previously said his client was devastated and took responsibility “in proportion to him”, but there were other factors at play as well, without elaborating further.

Rail workers say the country’s rail network is creaking under cost cutting and underinvestment, a legacy of Greece’s debilitating debt crisis from 2010 to 2018.

Riot police crack down on protesters during clashes in Athens, Greece, Sunday, March 5, 2023 (Yorgos Karahalis/AP)

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

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

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

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

“That crime will not be forgotten,” protesters shouted as they launched black balloons into the air.

A sign read: “Their policy has cost lives.”

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

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

Protests in Athens later degenerated into violence, with police accusing protesters of setting rubbish bins 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 made.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

Latest stories