Driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo charged over derailed Spanish train

He faces questions today over what caused the crash that killed 78 people

The driver of the Spanish train that derailed in Santiago de Compostela last Wednesday, killing 78 people, was charged yesterday with reckless manslaughter. Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, 52, will appear before a judge today to answer questions about how the crash occurred. He had been arrested on Thursday, and was treated in hospital after sustaining head injuries during the crash.

On Friday it was reported Mr Garzon Amo had declined to give a statement to police. "He has been arrested by the police on charges of alleged reckless homicide," Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said yesterday at police headquarters in Santiago de Compostela.

The minister added: "There is rational evidence to lead us to think that the driver could have eventual responsibility."

Police had already said that Mr Garzon Amo was suspected of "recklessness" in driving the train much too fast through a curve on the outskirts of Santiago, causing it to slam into a concrete wall next to the track.

He was expected to give a preliminary statement to judicial police as early as Thursday, but the process was delayed, reportedly due to health reasons. Unconfirmed media reports said that Mr Garzon Amo had also injured his ribs.

Normally, police take a first statement that is then examined by an investigating judge who must take testimony within 72 hours of the arrest. That deadline is today.

Gonzalo Ferre, president of Adif, Spain's rail infrastructure agency, said on Friday it was the driver's responsibility to brake before going into the high-risk curve, and signs clearly mark the point when the driver must begin to slow. Mr Garzon Amo should have started slowing the train 2.5 miles before the dangerous bend, according to Mr Ferre.

The government is hoping that a clearer picture will emerge from two official investigations, one judicial and one by government agencies. It hopes to determine whether the accident is the result of human error or a problem with the train, the track or the security that controls the speed of the railway.

In Wednesday's crash, the train's eight carriages packed with 218 passengers failed to negotiate a bend and violently tipped over. Diesel fuel sent flames coursing through some cabins. The blood-soaked driver was photographed being escorted from the wreckage, at first by civilians who had hurried to the scene of the accident and then by police. Several bodies found at the scene of the crash were still unidentified yesterday and dozens of injured were in hospital in a serious condition.

Plans for the local festival of St James were scheduled to begin this week but were cancelled following the train crash. The region of Galicia, of which Santiago is the capital, is preparing an official memorial for the victims tomorrow. Mourners placed candles at the entrance to the centuries-old cathedral, and pilgrims left handwritten notes in support of victims and their families.

There is growing pressure for assurances that Spain's rail network is safe. An editorial in El Pais said: "It is essential that we get guarantees about what the public believed was a model railway system but which suddenly turns out to have worrying security flaws."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Support Engineer

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Support Engi...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence