Greek stationmaster charged over deadly rail crash as PM seeks forgiveness

The stationmaster implicated in Greece's deadliest rail crash, which killed at least 57 people, was charged and taken into custody Sunday, hours after the prime minister asked for forgiveness for the disaster.

On the streets, public anger over the deaths exploded into violence at demonstrations to protest the longstanding neglect of rail safety and to mourn the victims.

A legal source told AFP that the 59-year-old stationmaster, who has been named as Vassilis Samaras, was charged over his role in the "death of a large number of people" and taken into custody. Under Greek law, the offence carries a sentence of between 10 years and life.

Early on Sunday, ahead of a memorial service in Athens, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wrote a message addressed to the nation.

"As prime minister, I owe it to everyone, but especially to the victims' relatives, (to ask for) forgiveness," he wrote.

"For the Greece of 2023, two trains heading in different directions cannot run on the same line and no one notice," Mitsotakis wrote in the message posted on his Facebook page.

In the coming days, the minister in charge will announce immediate measures to improve railway safety, he added.

Greece would also seek the help and advice of the European Commission -- as well as funding -- to upgrade and modernise the country's rail system.

Some protesters held signs reading "Down with killer governments".


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