Five days after the accident, the head of the railway station of the city of Larisa was arrested. The 59-year-old official is being charged with “the death of a large number of people,” the country’s judiciary said, Spiegel said. He faces a prison sentence of ten years to life. The station master, whose name was withheld in the interest of the investigation, admitted that he missed the change in the route of the trains.
According to the public broadcaster ERT, the man held the position for only 40 days, having previously completed a three-month course. According to the Kathimerini newspaper, he apparently worked alone at the station for four days before the accident, even though it was a long holiday weekend with heavy train traffic.
On the way between Athens and the port city of Thessaloniki, just before midnight on Tuesday, a passenger train and a freight train collided head-on. It was the biggest rail accident in the country’s history. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis asked relatives of the victims for “pardon” in an online appeal over the weekend. “It cannot be that in 2023 in Greece two trains were going towards each other on the same route, and nobody noticed this,” he wrote. Addressing the station chief, Mitsotakis emphasized: “We cannot, we do not want to, and we must not hide behind human error.”
The disaster sparked mass protests in Greece. Over the weekend, residents of the country took to the streets in various cities. According to the police, some 12,000 people gathered in front of the parliament building in Athens to protest. They launched hundreds of black balloons into the sky in memory of those who died in the tragedy. Within hours, protests in the Greek capital turned violent. Some protesters set garbage cans on fire and threw Molotov cocktails, to which police responded with tear gas and stun grenades, AFP reported. Seven police officers were injured and taken to hospital, police said. Five people were arrested. The situation in Athens calmed down again on Sunday afternoon.