The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

July 27, 2013

Spain train driver released from hospital

— SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain (AP) — The injured driver of the Spanish train that derailed at high speed, killing 78 and injuring dozens more, was released from the hospital Saturday, but he was still being held in a police station as authorities increasingly focused on his culpability.

Francisco Jose Garzon Amo was to appear before a judge by Sunday evening, a hotly awaited opportunity for him to give his explanation for Spain's deadliest train crash in decades.

Garzon has been under the microscope, with the country's railway agency saying it was his responsibility to brake before going into the high-risk curve where the train careered off the rails and smashed into a wall. It's still not clear whether the brakes failed or were never used, and Garzon has remained mum so far.

"There is rational evidence to lead us to think that the driver could have eventual responsibility," Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz told reporters at the crash site near the Catholic pilgrimage town of Santiago De Compostela.

He said Garzon was now being held on suspicion of negligent homicide. Authorities had previously said he was detained on suspicion of recklessness.

Speaking later at the police station, the minister also said that if Garzon were to choose to give a statement to the police before testifying in front of a judge, his lawyer would be called.

So far the driver has opted to use his constitutional right to remain silent, "although he may change his mind on that," Fernandez Diaz said.

The wreckage still remained near the site on Saturday, as passenger trains passed by. Black ribbons of mourning dotted the Santiago de Compostela and flags flew at half-staff. Makeshift shrines drew mourners to the city's cathedral.

Someone placed flowers on a bridge above the railroad tracks, with a note reading, "We are all in solidarity with the city of Santiago."

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