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Greek Parliament Debates Tempe Disaster as Cover-up Allegations Intensify

Young students make a human chain depicting the 57 victims of the Tempe disaster during a recent protest. Credit: AMNA

The Greek Parliament will debate the findings of the Tempe railway disaster on Wednesday in what is expected to be a heated debate as allegations of cover-up by the government intensify.

The findings of a parliamentary committee investigating the case ended in each of the seven parliamentary parties drafting its own report.

Main opposition SYRIZA stressed in its report that the culprits must be found, no matter how high they are, PASOK pointed to an attempt by the government to cover up responsibility, the Communist Party called for political and criminal responsibilities to the transport ministers from 2010 until now, and the populist right Greek Solution demanded the impeachment of the ministers from 2012 onwards.

Government rejects accusations of cover-up at Tempe

The government spokesman has rejected allegations that there has been a cover-up of the incident, accusing opposition parties of “instrumentalizing the pain of the victims’ relatives.”

In a press briefing, Pavlos Marinakis also confirmed that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will not attend the debate on the findings on the rail disaster, which claimed the lives of 57 people, most of them young university students returning from a long weekend break.

Marinakis said that the government has “absolute respect for the pain, anger and indignation of the relatives of the victims,” adding that the justice system is continuing the investigation into the disaster, in the best possible way.

“We are waiting for the answers; we want light in a sober and objective way,” he added.

SYRIZA: Relatives resort to Europe

SYRIZA accused the prime minister of “blatantly ignoring the cry of anguish of the relatives of the Tempi victims as well as their complaints about the cover-up of the crime. It is therefore logical that he has chosen to avoid tomorrow’s debate in Parliament.”

Regrettably, the relatives of the victims of the railway accident in Tempe are forced to resort to Europe to find their rights, SYRIZA leader Stefanos Kasselakis said.

“Mitsotakis will avoid appearing in Parliament on Wednesday and choose to run away. From the very first moment, his only concern was to cover up the crime and the responsibilities of the members of his government,” Kasselakis added and called on the Prime Minister to reflect on his historical responsibility.

Parents of Tempe victims call for ministerial immunity to be lifted

The parents of victims of the 2023 Tempe railway disaster have filed a request in Parliament calling for the immunity from prosecution of two former transport ministers to be lifted.

Maria Karystianou and Pavlos Aslanidis, whose children were among the 57 victims of the deadly collision, called for former New Democracy minister and sitting MP Kostas Karamanlis and former SYRIZA minister Christos Spirtzis to be investigated over potential criminal liabilities.

Their application is based on the conclusion of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office investigation into the uncompleted contract for the signaling and telecontrol system on the railway and on the legal argument that EU law prevails over the Greek Constitution.

EPPO’s probe found indications of breach of duty and misappropriation of funds on the part of Spirtzis and Karamanlis, who served as the ministers of transport under different governments from 2016 and until the crash, and were ultimately responsible for ensuring that the contract was implemented.

A man injured in the Tempe train crash has also sued Karamanlis, adding to an already heavy dossier of charges.

Maria Karystianou blasts Greek government

On Monday, Maria Karystianou, who represents the families of the 57 victims of the train accident in Tempe, speaking at the European Parliament said that the Greek government “initiated a sequence of bad manipulations and methods, which insults the memory of our dead and the dignity of the victims who survived.”

Karystianou noted the government through the Parliament provides the competent minister at the time and current MP Kostas Karamanlis full immunity.

“It doesn’t even refer him to face justice,” she said. Karamanlis resigned after the accident at Tempe in February 2023 that claimed the lives of 53 young people. However, he was re-elected in the general elections of June 2023.

“This blatantly violates fundamental principles of the Rule of Law,” Karystianou said and added that there is a collapse of trust in relation to the proper functioning of the institutions in Greece.”

Related: Greek Railway Disaster Expert Speaks of Crucial Omissions in Tempe Probe

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