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Unanswered Questions Remain Over Greece’s Railway Disaster

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Unanswered Questions Remain Over Greece’s Railway Disaster
Unanswered Questions Remain Over Greece’s Railway Disaster

At least 57 people were killed in February 2023 in the worst railway disaster in the history of Greece. Credit: AMNA

Unanswered Questions Remain Over Greece’s Railway Disaster

A year after the railway disaster, which claimed the lives of 57 people on February 28, 2023, in Tempe of Central Greece, many questions remain unanswered. Relatives of the victims have intensified their campaign for justice.

Federations have called for strikes and organized rallies to protest what is perceived as a systematic attempt to obscure the circumstances of the tragedy and cover up responsibilities.

The Association of Victims of the Tempe Accident, for example, claims that, in the aftermath of the disaster, the affected area was covered up by the state to conceal vital evidence.

“The Tempe disaster is the result of chronic corruption and the quagmire our society has sunk into…Citizens who are disturbed by corruption have also been deeply hurt by this crime,” a representative said.

“The explosion in the wagons cannot be explained,” the technical expert of the association of the victims’ families, Vassilis Kokotsakis, said in his report submitted to judicial authorities in Larissa. The collision site was described as “contaminated” and altered, having been filled with gravel and concrete.

Last week, MPs from three opposition parties walked out of the parliamentary committee probing the disaster after accusing the ruling New Democracy party of trying to engineer a “cover-up” and acquit those responsible.

“Need to clarify every claim” on Greece’s railway disaster

Supreme Court Prosecutor Georgia Adeilini has issued an order to the prosecutor’s office in the appeals court of Larissa, located in Central Greece, which oversees the investigations to comprehensively clarify “every claim and every allegation” regarding the disaster to ensure there is no shadow over the investigation.

Adeilini defended the judicial actions taken so far, stating that “the superhuman efforts over the past year of the prosecutorial and investigative authorities for a thorough investigation as quickly as possible of the above crime, sparing no time and effort, are unquestionable.”

“Nevertheless,” she added, “protests and complaints from relatives of the victims persist regarding unanswered questions, pieces of evidence that were not properly evaluated, investigative actions that were overlooked, and even accusations of judicial cover-ups, which continue to circulate both domestically and internationally, fueled by certain media outlets.”

“Therefore, it is imperative that you ensure every claim and allegation made by the victims’ relatives or the victims themselves and their legal representatives is investigated and addressed, following an assessment, according to your discretion,” the Supreme Court prosecutor said.

“[This will ensure that] the conclusion of the investigation leaves no doubt that the prosecutorial and investigative authorities have examined every aspect of the case, fulfilling their duty entirely,” Adeilini concluded.

32 people are charged so far

With each aspect of the accident examined, more people have come under scrutiny and more are likely to be charged.

Just last Tuesday, the prosecutor’s office in the appeals court of Larissa, the city closest to the site of the crash, filed charges against the CEO and a senior manager of Hellenic Train, the privatized train operator, raising the number of charged individuals to 32.

That number is likely to rise and include officials from the railways’ regulatory authority. So far, it has been established that the stationmaster on duty, who has been remanded pending trial, made the fatal error to route two trains, a northbound passenger one and a southbound cargo one, on the same line.

On February 28, 2023, a head-on collision occurred between two trains south of the Tempe Valley in Greece about halfway between the Greek towns of Tempi and Evangelismos in the Thessaly region.

The collision, involving the InterCity 62 (IC62) passenger train and an intermodal freight train, killed at least 57 people, with an official number of 342 passengers, 10 onboard railway staff on the passenger train, and 2 staff on the freight train totaling 354 passengers between the two trains.

It is the deadliest railway disaster in Greek history. It was discovered that the IC62 passenger train had been allowed to proceed on the wrong track and pass signals of danger despite the presence of the freight train on the same track.

Vigils, angry protests, and clashes with the police occurred throughout Greece following the accident.




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