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Update: Spain train driver detained for ‘reckless homicide’

Doctors are still working to identify three victims of the Spain’s worst rail disaster in decades.

Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a train derailment in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a train derailment in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
Image: La Voz de Galicia/Monica Ferreiros/AP/Press Association Images

Updated 13.37 Saturday

THE DRIVER OF a speeding train that hurtled off the rails killing 78 people in Spain was detained for “reckless homicide”, Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said Saturday.

“He has been detained since 7:40pm on Thursday for the alleged crimes of reckless homicide,” the minister told reporters in the northwestern city of Santiago de Compostela where the accident happened.

Police said Friday that they had detained the driver, accusing him of “recklessness” in Wednesday night’s devastating crash but gave no further details.

They said the driver, identified by media as Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, 52, refused to answer their questions Friday in his hospital bed and the case has been passed to the courts.

The driver will be questioned by a judge on Sunday, the interior minister added.

Under Spanish law, a suspect can be detained for a maximum of 72 hours before being heard by a judge.

Train travelling at more than twice the speed limit

“There are reasonable grounds to consider that he may have been responsible for what happened, which must be established by a judge and the investigation which has been opened,” he said.

The train was said to have been travelling at more than twice the speed limit on a curve when it hurtled off the rails and slammed into a concrete wall, with one carriage leaping up onto a siding.

The grey-haired driver, who reportedly boasted of his love for speed online, has been under police surveillance in hospital since the accident but he was discharged on Saturday and taken to a police station.

He reportedly suffered head injuries in the accident that required stitches.

In this photo taken on Wednesday July 24 2013, train driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo is helped by two men as he is evacuated from the site of a train accident in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. (AP Photo/La Voz de Galicia/Xoan Soler)

Spain in mourning

As Spain mourns, the city of Santiago de Compostela where the crash struck prepared a memorial service for the victims to take place Monday in its cathedral, a destination for Catholic pilgrims from around the world.

The driver is not expected to appear in court on Saturday and no date has been set for his appearance before a judge, Galicia’s High Court which is leading the investigation said in a statement.

- © AFP, 2013

Read: The arrested Spanish train driver is refusing to answer police questions
Read: Three days of mourning in Spain after deadly train crash
Video: The terrifying moment when the high-speed train derailed in Spain

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