Locomotive driver francisco jose garzon voluntarily appeared in court at the scene of the accident in santiago de compostela on wednesday to reveal the identity of the caller, spanish media reported, citing the high court of galicia.
79 people died in the accident a week ago. 13 injured still in critical condition in hospital on wednesday, according to official reports. Garzon admitted to a "lapse" during questioning by the investigating judge on sunday, but did not mention the telephone conversation. The call only came to light on tuesday during the analysis of the black box. 52-year-old garzon faces 79 counts of involuntary manslaughter.
The train driver reportedly came to court with his lawyer on wednesday and told the investigating judge that the train driver, who is the head of the conductors, had called him last wednesday evening shortly before the derailment due to excessive speed. Train driver antonio martin marugan, who was slightly injured in the accident, did not mention the call during his police interrogation. For the time being, he has not issued a statement.
The content of the conversation was revealed on wednesday by the TV station "lasexta". Among other things, the driver was asked: "how are things going with you??" – and replied: "good, we’ll get there soon."Shortly thereafter, according to the authorities’ findings, the railroad man crashed his train four kilometers from the entrance to the santiago station at 192 kilometers per hour in a tight speed 80 curve. However, garzon assured the media on wednesday that he had ended the conversation before the derailment occurred.
According to the regulations of the railroad company renfe, locomotive drivers may only be called from the railroad control center during the journey. According to the media, the analysis of the black box also showed that garzon probably looked at a sheet of paper during the telephone conversation. The government and the heads of the companies involved ruled out a technical error or safety defect as an additional cause of the accident.
He would rather die "than have to live with the guilt," the veteran railroad man said during questioning, according to media reports. However, garzon had also pointed out the poor signage at the "A grandeira" accident curve.
Garzon is currently free on conditional release. According to the court order, he has to report to court once a week. He was also stripped of his passport. In addition, he will no longer be allowed to drive a train for six months.
Transport and construction minister ana pastor said she would make a statement on the accident to the parliamentary transport committee. She had repeatedly rejected accusations by unions, the media and colleagues of the locomotive driver that the safety systems at the narrow accident curve were inadequate.