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Driver of derailed Spanish train charged with reckless homicide

A Spanish judge has charged the driver of a train that derailed and killed 79 people with multiple counts of reckless homicide. The charges come after the driver was questioned for nearly two hours about the accident.

Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, the driver of a Spanish train that derailed at high speed killing 79 people, was provisionally charged Sunday with multiple cases of negligent homicide and released on bail. 

The court statement said Garzon Amo must report to court every week and that he is forbidden from leaving Spain for six months. He was not sent to jail or required to post bail because none of the parties involved felt he was a flight risk.

Garzon Amo's train driver's license had also been withdrawn.

Questioning amid tragedy

Garzon Amo was questioned Sunday by an investigative judge as authorities tried to piece together what happened to cause Wednesday's high-speed train crash in Santiago de Compostela.

The death toll rose from 78 to 79 on Sunday after an injured American passenger died in the hospital, officials said.

The driver has not yet offered any official statements and chose to remain silent when police tried to interview him on Friday. But a local resident who had rushed to the scene of Wednesday's deadly crash said the driver talked about the moments before the incident.

Evaristo Iglesias said he spoke with Garzon and accompanied him to an area where the injured were being gathered.

"He said he had to brake to 80 [kilometers an hour] and couldn't, that he was going fast," Iglesias told private television station Antena 3. "He kept saying 'I want to die! I want to die! I don't want to see this! I want to die!' This is what he kept repeating."

The train carrying 218 passengers in eight cars was traveling well over the 80kph (50mph) speed limit before hitting a curve, derailing and slamming into a concrete wall.

According to the Spanish rail agency, the brakes should have been applied four kilometers (two and half miles) before the curve.

Mourning

Spain is mourning the loss of 79 people, with Sunday services being held nationwide in remembrance of the victims.

Families in France, Algeria, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Mexico and the United States have been affected by the tragedy.

On Monday, a large funeral Mass will take place in Santiago de Compostela, which both the prime minister and royal family are expected to attend.

Seventy people remain in the hospital due to injuries from the crash, and 22 of them are still in critical condition.

hc/ch (AP, AFP, Reuters)