why is the revolt brewing in Greece?
FOCUS – Violence between police and protesters erupted again in Greece on Wednesday as anger spreads over the train disaster that left 57 people dead.
Anger is brewing and the Greeks are demanding answers. A week after the train disaster that claimed the lives of 57 people, tens of thousands of people again gathered in the streets to demonstrate. At least 40,000 people marched in the middle of the day in Athens, according to a police spokeswoman, while there were 15,000 in Thessaloniki, the country’s second city.
Molotov cocktails and stones were thrown by a group of protesters outside the Greek Parliament in central Athens on Wednesday, and police responded by firing tear gas. Some are now calling for the resignation of the government, while the country is almost at a standstill due to a call to stop work in a large part of the public and private sectors. But what happened for the country to plunge into such a revolt? THE Figaro make the point.
What happened in Greece last week?
On February 28 around 11:30 p.m., Greece experienced the worst rail accident in its history: two trains collided without any alert being triggered. One of the trains was a freight train, the other an Intervity train with 342 passengers and 10 staff on board. The drama took place in the valley of Tempé in Thessaly, nearly 350 km from Athens.
After the collision, a fire broke out, both locomotives were destroyed, and the first three carriages of the passenger train derailed and were pulverized. The conductors of two trains were killed instantly. 57 people died and the majority were in the first wagons. A large number of passengers were students returning to Thessaloniki after a long weekend in Greece.
Why are the Greeks protesting after the accident?
Soon the tears gave way to anger. The day after the disaster, Greeks took to the streets to demonstrate. They want to understand why a train carrying 342 passengers was allowed to use the same single track as a freight convoy. They then point the finger at the authorities of negligence and the dilapidated state of the railway infrastructure.
The Greek media were outraged: “Why does Greece only learn lessons after tragedies?asked the front page of the left-wing newspaper Ta Nea on Friday. “It’s not a mistake but a crime“, had written Thursday the Journal of the editors, also of left. “Tempe’s dead demand answers“, headlined the liberal Kathimerini, in reference to the place of the collision.
In the street, the anger is above all directed against Hellenic Train. Friday, the wordkillerswas painted in red letters on the glass of the headquarters in Athens in front of which more than 5,000 angry people had gathered, demanding accountability.
The company is implicated for numerous negligence and shortcomings having led to this disaster described as “national tragedyby the authorities. “We are filled with rage and cannot accept that such a tragic event could happen in 2023“Said the president of a student union, Angelos Thomopoulos, according to whom most universities remained closed on Friday.
Clashes opposed demonstrators and law enforcement in Athens and Thessaloniki on several occasions on Friday March 3 and Sunday March 5. The police had to use tear gas canisters.
How are the government and Hellenic Train justified in this case?
The head of government, Kyriákos Mitsotákis, was strongly criticized after saying that the disaster was “tragic human error“. The railway unions responded strongly by recalling that they had sounded the alarm on the serious technical failures on this line long before the tragedy, without having been heard.
Transport Minister Giorgos Gerepetridis admitted that the accident could have been avoided if the installation of the “comprehensive remote management system had been completed“. He promised compensation to the families of the victims.
The anger is also directed at the railway company Hellenic Train, which responded to the accusations by recalling that the responsibility for the maintenance of the network fell to the Greek public company OSE.
Whose fault is it ?
The station master, 59, is being prosecuted for “negligent homicides” And “bodily injury“. In front of the judges, he confessed his “errorand therefore risks life imprisonment if his guilt is established. This man, whose identity has not been revealed, has been remanded in custody.
Some accuse the authorities of wanting to blame a man who had very little experience. Media, including the public television channel ERT, had highlighted his inexperience since, according to them, he had been appointed to this post only forty days ago after a job at the Ministry of Education and a training of three month.
But according to a judicial source, the investigation also aims “to initiate criminal proceedings, if necessary, against members of the company’s management» Hellenic Train, the Greek railways, while the dilapidated state of the network is pointed out. A search was also carried out Friday in the station of Larissa. The government has also decided to appoint a committee of experts to investigate the causes of the accident.