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Greece faces new strikes and protests over train crash

ATHENS — Greece faces a fresh round of mass strikes and nationwide protests on Wednesday as anger mounts over the country’s worst rail tragedy that killed 57 people last week.

Fourteen people remain in hospital after a freight train collided head-on with a passenger train carrying mostly students near downtown Larissa on February 28.

A stationmaster who admitted forgetting to divert one of the trains was arrested and charged with manslaughter and obstructing traffic. If convicted, he faces life imprisonment.

But public anger remains widespread in Greece over decades of government mismanagement of the rail network and failure to advance safety reforms.

On Wednesday, Greek officials, along with doctors, school teachers, bus drivers and the ferry crew, will stage a new 24-hour strike.

The railroads will remain paralyzed for the eighth straight day as train workers extend the strikes they launched in the wake of the accident.

During the protests triggered by the crash last week, riot police repeatedly clashed with demonstrators, including in Athens. The Public Order Ministry said talks were being held with protest organizers to avert fresh violence.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who was expected to call national elections for April 9, has been widely criticized for placing too much blame on the station master.

Greece’s transport minister resigned on March 1 and Mitsotakis has apologized to the victims’ families, promised to get to the bottom of what happened and started a series of public appearances to appease the anger.

– “High” apologies –

He visited the crash site and gave a televised address blaming “human error” for the accident while calling for a special committee of experts to be convened to investigate.

But critics were merciless. Columnist Pantelis Boukalas wrote in the liberal daily Kathimerini that the prime minister’s apology was “delayed” and some may suspect it was “directed by PR gurus”.

The left-wing daily Avgi said the prime minister’s “hollow” apology had “become tear gassed at families in a peaceful protest demanding justice and truth”.

The prime minister and other politicians suspended the election campaign following the tragedy. Now there is speculation that the elections could be postponed until May.

Mitsotakis has vowed to seek EU help to “finally” modernize the train network and urged the Supreme Court to investigate the tragedy as soon as possible.

“We all know that the country’s railways are deeply problematic,” Mitsotakis said.

However, there is little sign of public anger abating. Last weekend, football fans across the country berated the prime minister during matches.

Political life resumes on Thursday after a period of national mourning, but the prime minister appears in no rush to address the issue of upcoming polls.

When asked Monday when Mitsotakis would set an election date, government spokesman Yiannis Economou replied: “At this point, the prime minister is not at all concerned with the issue.”

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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