Parliament committee to investigate fatal rail crash

The Parliament approved late Wednesday the setup of an investigative committee that will examine the fatal railway crash of February 28, 2023, that killed 57 near the Vale of Tempe, in central Greece.

The 300-member Parliament voted, 266-32, in favor of a proposal by the Communist Party that will examine not only the immediate causes of the crash itself but the overall neglect of the railway network since 1997.

The socialist PASOK party dissented, calling for a “pre-interrogation investigation committee” that would examine, with the aid of judicial authorities, the criminal responsibilities of the Transport Minister at the time of the accident and his immediate predecessors.

A simple investigation committee decides on the political responsibilities of the government’s in the examined period and, if there is enough evidence, may recommend the setup of a pre-interrogation committee. As the latter requires 151 votes to be set up, the government wields an effective veto over the decision. On Wednesday, the government made it clear it would oppose such a committee. The main opposition SYRIZA said that, while concurring with PASOK’s call for an enhanced committee, it would nonetheless vote for the Communist Party’s proposal so that some light could be shed on government responsibilities for the crash, the worst railway disaster in Greece’s history.

The crash occurred when a northbound passenger train was mistakenly routed into the southbound track used by an oncoming cargo train.

MPs decided that the commission will be composed of 31 MPs of all parties, in proportion to their strength in Parliament and will have one month to investigate by calling witnesses. The commission itself can ask for an extension.