Ex-security chief pleads innocence in Spain train crash case

Oct 13, 2022, 6:42 AM | Updated: 7:03 am
FILE - Emergency personnel work at the site of a train which was derailed in Santiago de Compostela...

FILE - Emergency personnel work at the site of a train which was derailed in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Thursday, July 25, 2013. A trial has begun in Spain on Wednesday Oct. 5, 2022 for the 2013 train accident that killed 80 passengers and injured 145 others. Prosecutors are seeking four-year prison sentences for the train driver and for a former security director at the rail infrastructure company, ADIF after the long-distance train derailed and crashed against a concrete wall while traveling over the speed limit. (AP Photo/ Lalo Villar, File)

(AP Photo/ Lalo Villar, File)

MADRID (AP) — The former head of security for Spain’s state-owned rail infrastructure company told a court Thursday that he was not responsible for the 2013 train crash that killed 80 passengers and injured 145 more.

Andrés Cortabitarte and the train’s driver are both facing four-year prison terms if found guilty of professional negligence for the derailment. The train went off the tracks while speeding at 179 kph (111 mph) on a stretch with an 80 kph (50 mph) limit as it was arriving to the northwest city of Santiago de Compostela.

Spanish news agency Efe reported that Cortabitarte told the court that it was not his job to evaluate the risks of the track where the tragedy took place.

Cortabitarte had been originally scheduled to testify last week but his appearance was pushed back after he was hit by the relative of one of the train wreck’s victims outside the courthouse.

Last week, the train’s driver, Francisco José Garzón Amo, wept while testifying that he had braked but could not avoid the crash. He added that there had been no signals warning him to reduce speed before the curve where the crash occurred.

ADIF, Spain’s state-owned rail infrastructure company, confirmed days after the July 24, 2013 tragedy that an automatic braking program was installed on most of the track leading from Madrid north to Santiago de Compostela but stopped 5 kilometers (3 miles) south of the accident site.

A group representing victims of the crash, the Alvia 04155 Victims Platform, has said that it hoped the trial would show that ADIF bore more responsibility for the derailment than the driver.

The trial, which started last week, is expected to last several months and hear from some 650 witnesses.

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              FILE - Rail workers are seen next to derailed cars at the site of a train accident in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on July 25, 2013. A trial has begun in Spain on Wednesday Oct. 5, 2022 for the 2013 train accident that killed 80 passengers and injured 145 others. Prosecutors are seeking four-year prison sentences for the train driver and for a former security director at the rail infrastructure company, ADIF after the long-distance train derailed and crashed against a concrete wall while traveling over the speed limit. (AP Photo/Lalo Villar, File)
            
              FILE - Emergency personnel work at the site of a train which was derailed in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on Thursday, July 25, 2013. A trial has begun in Spain on Wednesday Oct. 5, 2022 for the 2013 train accident that killed 80 passengers and injured 145 others. Prosecutors are seeking four-year prison sentences for the train driver and for a former security director at the rail infrastructure company, ADIF after the long-distance train derailed and crashed against a concrete wall while traveling over the speed limit. (AP Photo/ Lalo Villar, File)

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Ex-security chief pleads innocence in Spain train crash case