Train crash driver charged as Spain mourns crash victims

Santiago de compostela (S, PTI | Updated : 29 July 2013, 08:25 AM

The driver of a train that hurtled off the rails in Spain was charged with 79 counts of reckless homicide and released on bail after being questioned by a judge.

The judge ordered him to report to court every week and forbade him from leaving Spain for six months, the High Court of Galicia, which is leading the investigation, said in a statement on Sunday.

He also banned him from driving trains for six months. Media reports have suggested that the 52-year-old driver, Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, was travelling at more than double the speed limit for that stretch of the line when the crashed happened.

The train came off the line near the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela, northwest Spain.

Police detained Garzon Amo on Thursday, a day after what is Spain's deadliest rail disaster in decades, on suspicion of reckless homicide.

He was still in hospital recovering from a light head injury he suffered in the crash.

On Sunday, a police car delivered him in handcuffs to the courthouse for the closed hearing. He had spent the previous night in a police cell.

Garzon Amo was dressed in a blue shirt and a scar was visible from his injury.

Just hours before the court hearing began regional health officials said a woman critically injured in the crash had died in hospital, bringing the toll to 79.

The latest victim was a US national, the Galician High Court said, bringing to nine the total number of foreigners who died.

Flowers and candles were placed at the gates of the city's cathedral, a year-round destination for Roman Catholic pilgrims, which will host a memorial service for the victims on Monday.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who was born in Santiago de Compostela, and Crown Prince Felipe are scheduled to attend the service.

"We are really feeling the impact. People are praying. It is a great tragedy," said 70-year-old Marlen de Francisco, who sells souvenirs in the cathedral square.

"All day people are asking me for note paper so they can write messages and put them on the cathedral gates."

First Published: Monday, July 29, 2013 08:23 AM
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