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Greece: Damning indictment over Tempe

Just 10 months before the deadly railway collision at Tempe, central Greece, on February 28, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office initiated an inquiry, which culminated in a 106-page indictment.

An unnamed whistleblower had produced a thorough report at the time, alleging a series of irregularities in the execution of contract 717, which was for the installation of a telecommand system on the railway network.

The indictment has implicated 26 non-political suspects, primarily staff of ERGOSE, the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE)’s projects branch and TOMI-Alstom consortium officials, who have already been ordered to get copies of the case file and offer written responses.

In a 10-page report submitted at the time to the office of the European Public Prosecutors in Athens, the whistleblower had issued an ominous warning.

“The worst thing is that in 2022, with the way ERGOSE is managing the projects, trains are running without any safety system. We have already lost three people in the Adendro accident. Recently with the snowfall we had a collision in Davleia with the injury of 11 of our fellow citizens,” the report said. “If the 717 contract had completed its physical scope in 2016, as contractually due, and the signaling and the ETCS [train protection system] had been operational, none of the above would have happened,” it added.

On the night of February 28, the prophetic report was confirmed. The train on the Athens-Thessaloniki route collided head-on with a freight train due to the lack of electronic safety measures and human error. As a result, 57 people died in the country’s worst rail disaster. The report was assessed as credible and was the reason for the launch of an investigation by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office into the case of contract 717 – 85% financed by EU funds.