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Friday, February 3, 2023

The Trial of the 2013 Spain’s Train Crash Begins

This was the country's worst rail accident in decades, in which 145 more people were injured

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

SPAIN: In Spain, a trial for a 2013 train crash that claimed the lives of 80 passengers and injured 145 others began on Wednesday. A scuffle outside the courtroom took place in which one of the defendants was hit by a protestor as tempers flared.

The eight-carriage, high-speed Alvia 04155 train crashed into a concrete wall and caught fire after veering off the track on a hairpin bend not far from Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain.

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This was the country’s worst rail accident in decades, in which 145 more people were injured.

The Transport Ministry’s Rail Disaster Investigation Commission concluded in a study that Francisco Jose Garzon, the driver, was distracted by a call from a supervisor and that speeding contributed to the accident.

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Garzón, the high-speed train driver when it derailed on July 24, 2013, and Andrés Cortabitarte, a former safety director at Spain’s state-owned rail infrastructure business, Adif, both risk four years in prison if found guilty. 

The two are accused of 145 offences of injury and 80 counts of manslaughter through gross professional negligence.

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To avoid seeing the media and crash victims who were protesting in front of the building, Cortabitarte entered the court by a back entrance.

But when he later departed through the front entrance, a protester hit him in the back. Demonstrators were seen cursing at him in video footage that was shown on Spanish national television.

While opposing any forms of violence, a representative for the victims’ families told El Pas that “you have to understand the grief of a father who lost his daughter and who feels helpless.”

An investigation into the disaster, which left 145 people injured, revealed that the train was travelling at 179 km/h (111 mph) on a section of track with an 80 km/h (50 mph) speed restriction when it veered off the tracks.

On Wednesday, the driver’s attorney, Manuel Prieto, claimed that the disaster had not been caused by his client’s phone call, but rather by a lack of signposts on the section of the railway line where the accident occurred and other insufficient safety precautions.

Days after the collision, Adif verified that an autonomous braking system was placed on the majority of the track heading from Madrid north to Santiago de Compostela, but claimed that the coverage ended 5 km (3 miles) south of the crash site, increasing the driver’s responsibility.

Members of the association demonstrated earlier this week outside the Spanish Parliament in Madrid, calling for justice.

“There are some people who have passed away and are no longer with us. They will never receive justice, “Jesus Dominguez, a spokesman, told national television station TVE on Wednesday, just before the trial began.

With over 700 witnesses and experts testifying, the trial—held at a cultural centre in Santiago de Compostel—is anticipated to last several months.

Also Read: Outrage in China after 27 People Dies in COVID-19 Quarantine Bus Crash

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