Around 300 people gathered on Saturday in the central Greece city of Larissa to protest the loss of 57 lives in a head-on collision of two trains in February that shocked the country.
Relatives and friends of the victims marched in the town center holding black candles and banners that read “I do not forget - 57 souls seek justice.” They reiterated their demand that the causes of the accident be revealed and those responsible to be punished, including high-ranking officials.
On February 28, a passenger train and a freight train collided after running on the same track for several kilometers. Most of the victims were university students returning from a long holiday weekend. The stationmaster on duty during the crash is being held in pretrial detention on charges of endangering public transport and negligent homicide, facing up to a life sentence if convicted. Three other railway officials -- two other stationmasters and a shift supervisor -- have also been charged in connection with the disaster. The other stationmasters have been released on bail.
Greece is set to hold its most unpredictable election in over a decade on May 21, when anger over the rail tragedy is set to loom large. The conservative prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, whose government has faced a wave of sometimes violent protests over the tragedy, has vowed a complete overhaul of Greece’s train network, pledging to install electronic safety systems by the end of September if re-elected¹.
Railway unions had long warned the network was underfunded, understaffed and accident-prone after a decade of spending cuts. Greece’s rail watchdog had also said it had found serious safety problems across the network, including inadequate basic training for critical staff.