Sunday 19 November 2017

Driver in Spanish train released from custody

THE driver of a Spanish train that derailed killing 79 people was released from police custody tonight.

Francisco Garzon, 52, had been under arrest since a day after Wednesday's accident, on suspicion of reckless homicide and testified for two hours before a judge this evening.

The conditions of release were that he check in regularly with the court and surrender his passport, the reports said.

The experienced driver was travelling at more than twice the 80 km per hour permitted on a curve going into the city of Santiago de Compostela when the train careered off the track and smashed into a wall.

The death toll from Spain's worst train disaster in decades rose to 79 after one injured person - local media reported that she was a woman from the United States - died on Sunday.

Seventy people remain in hospital with injuries from the crash, which crumpled the train and set some carriages on fire. Of those, 22 were in critical condition.

After the accident, Garzon spoke with both the train system control centre and emergency dispatchers, his face covered in blood from a head wound. Spanish newspapers have reported that transcripts of those communications show that he recognised he was going too fast.

Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez said on Saturday there was sufficient evidence to charge Garzon with reckless homicide.

Garzon, who was released from hospital on Saturday but remained in police custody, arrived at Santiago de Compostela's main courthouse at 6:15 p.m. on Sunday in a police car with darkened windows.

He appeared in a closed-door hearing before Judge Luis Alaez, the investigating magistrate who was assigned the case.

Neither lawyers nor members of Garzon's family could be contacted for comment.


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