MADRID — A trial opened Wednesday in Spain over a 2013 train derailment 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 state-owned rail infrastructure company ADIF.
A long-distance train derailed and crashed against a concrete wall near Spain’s northwestern city of Santiago de Compostela on July 24, 2013.
An investigation showed the train was traveling 179 kph (111 mph) on a stretch with an 80 kph (50 mph) speed limit. The review also revealed the driver answered a phone call from the conductor moments before the crash.
The driver’s lawyer, Manuel Prieto, told reporters Wednesday that missing signs and other inadequate safety measure, not the phone call, triggered the derailment.
ADIF confirmed days after the crash that an automatic braking program was installed on most of the track leading from Madrid north to Santiago de Compostela but the coverage stopped 5 kilometers (3 miles) south of where the crash occurred, placing a greater burden on the driver.
A group representing victims of the crash, the Alvia 04155 Victims Platform, said it expected the trial to show that ADIF bore more responsibility for the derailment than the driver.
“The only way, unfortunately, that it doesn’t happen again is for ADIF to be condemned and then the next person will think about it” Jesús Dominguez, a spokesperson for the group, told the La Voz de Galicia newspaper.
The association also said that it has taken too long to hold the trial since the accident happened 9 years and 2 months ago.
“Some of the victims and relatives have died over the years. For them there will never be justice and unfortunately nothing can be done”, they said in a statement reported by Spain’s state news agency EFE.
The victims are claiming damages of 58.6 million euros ($57 million)
The trial is expected to last several months, with 669 witnesses to be heard.