, SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain July 27- The driver of a train that hurtled off the rails killing 78 people in Spain is to appear before a judge for questioning Sunday, facing possible charges of reckless homicide.
Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, 52, refused to answer police questions Friday from his hospital bed, and the case was passed to the courts.
He was taken to a police station on Saturday after being discharged from hospital and will appear on Sunday before a judge who will decide whether to press formal charges.
Under Spanish law, a suspect can be detained for a maximum of 72 hours before being heard by a judge.
Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz told reporters Saturday that Garzon Amo faced possible charges of reckless homicide. He was speaking during a visit to the northwestern city of Santiago de Compostela where the crash happened.
The train was said to have been travelling at more than twice the speed limit on a curve when it was flung off the rails on Wednesday and slammed into a concrete wall, with one carriage leaping up onto a siding.
Regional authorities now say that 78 passengers died and 178 were injured in the accident.
It was Spain’s deadliest rail accident since 1944 when hundreds were killed in a train collision, also between Madrid and Galicia.
Regional health officials said 71 people were still in hospital, including 28 adults and three children in a critical condition.
Eight foreigners were among the dead a US citizen, an Algerian, a Mexican, a Brazilian, a Venezuelan, an Italian, a national of the Dominican Republic and a Frenchman.
Spanish media published photographs of the man they identified as Garzon Amo after the crash, with blood covering the right side of his face.
The driver should have started slowing the train before reaching a bend that train drivers had been told to respect, the president of Spanish rail network administrator Adif said Saturday.
“Four kilometres before the accident happened he already had warnings that he had to begin slowing his speed,” Gonzalo Ferre told Spanish public television TVE.
Daily newspaper El Mundo, citing sources close to the investigation, reported Saturday that the driver was speaking on his mobile telephone at the time of the accident.
And El Pais, citing unidentified sources in the investigation, reported that the driver, while still trapped in his cab, told railway officials by radio that the train had taken the curve at 190 kilometres (118 miles) an hour. That is more than double the 80 kph speed limit for that section of track.
State railway company Renfe said the driver had been with the firm for 30 years, including 13 years as a driver.