Spain police to study train 'black box' on Tuesday
SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA (AP) - Police will soon begin extracting information from the "black box" of a train that crashed last week, a Spanish court official said on Monday, potentially making clear why the driver failed to brake in time to stop the train from hurtling into a dangerous curve, killing 79 people.
Francisco Garzon Amo faces multiple counts of negligent homicide for the country's worst train accident in decades. The investigation has increasingly focused on him and his failure to brake, with a witness saying he told him seconds after the crash that he was going fast and tried to stop, but couldn't.
The black box could clear up whether there was a mechanical or technical failure.
Experts will start examining the black box on Tuesday under the instruction of Judge Luis Alaez. Judge Alaez charged Garzon late on Sunday, but allowed him to leave custody without bail. He was driven from the court in a police car after dark, but it was not clear where he was taken.
Several Spanish neswspapers, including leading daily El Pais, reported on Monday that the driver acknowledged to the judge that the train was travelling too fast, but that he briefly stopped paying attention. A court spokeswoman said she could not comment on details of the testimony.
The spokeswoman said that before taking the driver's testimony, officials carried out checks on calls and messages made from the man's mobile phone. She was speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with court policy.
At least one press photograph showed the man talking on a mobile phone shortly after the crash. Several news media reported Garzon told railway control in a call that he had been going too fast.
The crash has left a pall over the city of Santiago de Compostela, an important Catholic religious site that had been preparing for a feast celebrating Spain's patron saint. Shrines and regional flags with black mourning ribbons have dotted the area.
Spain's state-run train company has described Garzon as an experienced driver who knew the route well.
Officials said 70 people injured in the train accident remained hospitalized, 22 of them in critical condition.