The station master of Larissa was remanded in custody after a testimony that lasted over seven hours until late on Sunday.
The 59-year-old man is being charged with endangering transport safety and multiple counts of negligent homicide and bodily harm. The transport safety charge, a felony, potentially carries a life sentence.
In the night of February 28, the station master had forgotten to change the rail track resulting into the passenger and the freight train to a fatal head-on collision in Tempi that cost the lives of 57 people.
The station master’s lawyer Stefanos Pantzartzidis told reporters that in his testimony his client told “everything, things exactly as they happened without fearing if this would result in responsibilities for himself or not.”
He also stressed that the station master was not “drinking” and “partying” at the time of the collision as has been reported by other lawyers.
He denied what has been heard that he left his post, pointing out that “he was constantly at his post and for a diabolical period of about 20 minutes, he was in charge of the railway safety of the whole of Central Greece.”
Regarding whether he was placed in the position of station master through political intervention, the lawyer replied that through the mobility process in the public sector, he “got the position” and that there was no reason to use political means as he was the only one who applied for the specific position.
He added that his client was “in tragic condition.”
According to media reports, the station master was new in this position and should not be on duty alone and thus in such a busy train station. Reports also question whether he had sufficient training.
Information and claims about station masters in Larissa are bombarding the media and the public, and the government is trying to do damage control with moves obviously dictated by panic.
There are rumors that there were 3 station masters on the shift and that one had left half an hour earlier than his shirt end, reports cnngreece.
On Monday, the Health Ministry ordered an investigation into doctors who prescribed a sickness leave for the station master who had the next shirt – some media report that he was the supervisor, though. He had reportedly applied for the leave after the train collision.