, MADRID, August 2, 2013 (AFP) – A conductor said Friday he was not to blame for a Spanish train derailment that killed 79 people on July 24 despite telephoning the driver just before the disaster.
The on-board conductor said his call to the driver had already ended when the speeding train flew off the rails and hurtled into a concrete siding near the northwestern city of Santiago de Compostela.
“I have not felt I was to blame at any time,” the conductor told reporters as he arrived at the court in Santiago de Compostela, which is running a criminal investigation into the accident.
The conductor is appearing only as a witness and is not accused of wrongdoing.
Nevertheless, he said he felt shaken after Spain’s deadliest railway crash in decades.
“I am pretty well physically and injured psychologically,” he told media.
The court, presided over by Judge Luis Alaez, has not released the conductor’s name but he has been widely identified in the media as Antonio Martin Marugan.
On Thursday, the judge said the conductor, who had called the driver to discuss which track to use on a later stop, was not being accused of criminal negligence.
“The fact of consulting the driver to know if the train could run on a particular track was something normal,” the judge said. “It was not the cause of the derailment.”
“Even if it was unfortunate that the call took place at that place and time, it is not sufficient to make an accusation of criminal negligence.”
The train driver, 52 year old Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, has been released on bail charged with 79 counts of reckless homicide while the court investigates.