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ERGOSE executives released from jail on bail in European Tempi train crash probe

Two executives of ERGOSE, the projects branch of the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE), were ordered to post a 600,000-euro and 500,000-euro bail quarantees, respectively, before being released from jail on Thursday as part of a European probe into a deadly train collision in Tempi last year, and specifically the implementation of Contract 717 for the automatic operation and signaling of the railway network.

They were also banned from leaving the country.

They were the first of 14 ERGOSE employees and a total of 23 individuals facing similar charges in the criminal proceedings launched by the Greek branch of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). They are facing charges of fraud, complicity to commit fraud, false certification, breach of trust and complicity to commit breach of trust. The EPPO probe is separate from the one conducted by the Greek judicial authorities.

The two defendants were responsible for supervising the implementation of the 2014 contract which involved the implementation of the contract for restoring the Signaling-Telecontrol System on the Athens-Thessaloniki-Promachonas railway section.

“The accused employees of ERGOSE did not have a sincere intention of implementing Contract 717/2014 and its object – which was inextricably linked to the safety of railway services, as proved in the most tragic way by the [2017] accident in Adendros and the recent fatal accident in Tempe, which would certainly have been avoided if the object of Contract 717 had been completed with the ETCS system in operation,” Investigative magistrate Christina Salappa and prosecutor Popi Papandreou said in the case file against the two company executives.

The testimonies of the 23 defendants involved in the case are expected to last until the end of April.

Salappa is expected to hear from 12 more employees of ERGOSE, accused of fraud related to the subsidies paid for the execution of the project, two of whom are also accused of making a false statement with the purpose of obtaining an unfair advantage for a third party; four Ministry of Transport officials who are accused of with fraud; and five employees at the TOMI-Alstom consortium, which was responsible for implementing the contract.

EPPO’s investigation began several months before the February 28 fatal train collision at Tempi, which killed 57 people. European prosecutors completed their investigation in the early summer, producing a 106-page indictment with their findings.

The findings of EPPO’s investigation also included the names of two former transport ministers who served from 2016 until the accident. SYRIZA’s Christos Spirtzis is accused of dereliction of duty, while his successor, Kostas Karamanlis, faces allegations of breach of faith with the European Union.

EPPO sent the file to Parliament, requesting it to lift the immunity of the two former ministers, but the ruling Conservatives, who form the majority, rejected the request.

Before the European prosecutors’ probe in 2022, an investigation into Contract 717 had also been carried out by the Athens Court of Appeals, but the case was archived in 2021. via kathimerini.com

PS On social media, the usual mean Greeks wonder where did the two employees  find half a million euros each to pay the bail.

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