Train collision in Larissa: The stationmaster is charged with manslaughter - "I take responsibility"

Greek police train collision larissa

A felony criminal prosecution was brought against the stationmaster of Larissa, Vassilis Samaras, for disturbing transportation safety, manslaughter and negligent bodily harm.

The station master remained for 10 minutes in front of the prosecutor at noon on Thursday and after the accusations were announced, he was given a deadline of Saturday to testify to the investigator - until then he will remain in custody, as reported by Proto Thema.

According to his lawyer, "Mr. Samaras, from the first moment, has taken responsibility within the framework assigned to him".

"The fault is not specific, there is convergent negligence from various factors. There are points where he could be more careful," added the lawyer of the Larissa station master.

Bringing the station master to the public prosecutor

After the criminal prosecution against the stationmaster, it is expected that the case will be introduced to the Plenary Session of the Court of Appeal of Larissa in order for the case to be assigned to an appellate special investigator.

However, during the preliminary investigation into the tragic event, the prosecutor's office will expand their investigation widely.

train collision larissa greece

And this is because, in addition to the responsibilities of the stationmaster, they will look for the possible responsibilities and omissions of other persons, who are connected and have a decisive role in the facilities and operation of the railway network.

Despite his initial denial, the station master yesterday reportedly confessed to his fatal mistake, which he attributed to "bad timing".

train collision February 28, 2023. Larissa

Although he initially claimed that the accident was due to a system error, saying that he understood when he was informed of what had happened, he eventually admitted that he had run the passenger train on the wrong tracks.

Meanwhile, rail workers across Greece have begun a one-day strike after Tuesday's train crash which killed at least 43 people.

"Pain has turned into anger for the dozens of dead and wounded colleagues and fellow citizens," the workers' union said in a statement.

The walkout follows protests in Athens, Thessaloniki and the city of Larissa, near the site of the disaster.

Rescue workers are still going through burned and buckled carriages, searching for victims.

This was the "most difficult moment", rescuer Konstantinos Imanimidis told Reuters news agency, as "instead of saving lives, we have to recover bodies".

The incident happened just before midnight on Tuesday. A passenger train carrying 350 people collide with a freight train after both ended up on the same track - causing the front carriages to burst into flames.

The railway workers' strike began at 0600 local time (0400 GMT), affecting national rail services and the subway in Athens.

Many in Greece see the crash as an accident waiting to happen, and the union blamed successive governments' "disrespect" towards Greek railways for leading to this "tragic result".

A 59-year-old station master in Larissa has been charged with manslaughter by negligence and is due to appear in court on Thursday. He has denied any wrongdoing, blaming the crash on a technical fault.

The country's transport minister has resigned over the incident, saying he would take responsibility for the authorities' "long-standing failures" to fix a railway system that was not fit for the 21st Century.

train collision February 28, 2023.

Meanwhile, the government has promised an independent investigation that it promises will deliver justice.

But Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis's suggestion that "tragic human error" was to blame has caused anger.

On Wednesday, rioters clashed with police outside the headquarters of Hellenic Train in Athens - the headquarters of the company responsible for maintaining Greece's railways.

Tear gas was used to disperse protesters, who threw stones and lit fires in the streets.

At a silent vigil in Larissa to commemorate the victims of the incident, one demonstrator said he felt the disaster had been long coming.

"The rail network looked problematic, with worn down, badly paid staff," Nikos Savva, a medical student from Cyprus, told AFP news agency.

The station master arrested should not pay the price "for a whole ailing system", he added.

"This is an inadmissible accident. We've known this situation for 30 years," a doctor based in Larissa, Costas Bargiotas, told AFP.

READ MORE: Train collision in Tempi: "I'm not a hero, I did my duty," says the teenager who helped save 16 passengers.

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