Thousands of people are taking part in a new protest action in Greece due to the train disaster

ATHENS, Greece — Thousands of people protested Sunday against safety deficiencies in Greece’s rail network, nearly two weeks after dozens were killed in the country’s deadliest train crash.

Demonstrators also demanded the punishment of those responsible for the head-on collision between passenger and freight trains that killed 57 people on February 28. Police said more than 8,000 people in Athens gathered outside the parliament on Sunday to protest.

Later, the protesters marched to the offices of the privatized railway operator Hellenic Train. The company, which has been owned by the Italian Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane since 2017, is not responsible for the maintenance of the railway network. The state-owned company Hellenic Railways is responsible for maintenance.

Due to the protest, the authorities closed four metro stations on two lines that pass through the center of Athens.

The rally was organized by government officials, a pro-communist trade union and university students.

In Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, around 5,000 people demonstrated, listening to speeches and shouting slogans such as “we will be a voice for all the dead”.

Sunday’s rallies, which passed without serious incident, were not as well attended as similar events earlier in the week, when more than 30,000 turned out in Athens and more than 20,000 in Thessaloniki. The police said that four people were detained in Athens.

A memorial service was held for 12 students of Aristotle University, the largest in Greece, in Thessaloniki, who died in a train accident.

An inexperienced station master charged with keeping trains on a single track was charged with manslaughter and other crimes, and the country’s transport minister and senior railway officials resigned the day after the disaster.

The discovery of serious security gaps on Greece’s busiest rail line has forced the centre-right government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to go on the defensive. He promised the full cooperation of the government in the judicial investigation of the disaster.

An election is due later this spring, and opinion polls released last week showed the ruling conservatives’ lead over the left-wing opposition had nearly halved compared to polls published before the crash.

Source link