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Spanish judge to question safety officials over rail crash that killed 79 people


A judge investigating Spain’s worst train disaster in decades will question safety officials from state rail company Adif after finding basic precautions were not made.

The main cause of the accident, that killed 79 people in the northwestern region of Galicia last month was the train’s excessive speed, judge Luis Alaez wrote in court documents released today.

But he had also decided to put safety officials at Adif under formal investigation, the papers said.

“There was an omission of elementary precautions by those whose mission it was to guarantee the safety of railway circulation on the line, which could constitute a punishable offence,” Alaez wrote.

The train derailed and slammed into a concrete wall on the outskirts of Santiago de Compostela on 24 July after approaching a curve at more than twice the speed limit.

The driver, Francisco Garzon, 52, has been charged with negligent homicide and released without bail pending trial.

In a closed-door hearing before Judge Alaez, Mr Garzon admitted taking the curve too fast, blaming it on a momentary lapse. Judge Alaez, who is leading an investigation of the crash, said those responsible for safety should have foreseen human errors could pose a risk on what was known to be a difficult curve. They should have taken better preventative measures, including break signs further away from the bend, the judge said.