Greek govt survives no-confidence vote over train crash

The government of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has survived a no-confidence vote over the handling of a 2023 train crash that killed 57 people after media reports emerged alleging manipulation of evidence.

Leftist opposition parties submitted a censure motion against the conservative government this week accusing it of "trying to hide the truth" after a freight train collided head-on with a passenger train in central Greece, the worst rail accident in the country's history.

The government has denied any wrongdoing and the ruling New Democracy party's parliamentary majority was confirmed during the vote, despite a heated debate.

"I call on you to vote in favour of a government which, despite the great difficulties, takes the country steadily forward," Mitsotakis told parliament before the vote on Thursday.

The motion highlighted how many are still angered by a disaster that revealed how decades of neglect and mismanagement had jeopardised railway safety.

Wreckage from Greece's deadliest rail crash, in Tempe in 2023
The collision between a freight train and passenger train was the Greece's deadliest rail accident. (AP PHOTO)

Experts say little has changed to improve standards since, despite reform efforts.

An EU prosecutor has charged 18 Greek public officials for multiple, illegal extensions of a 2014 project to install safety railway systems, the latest just after the crash.

"You were advertising the railway's safety when you knew what common citizens did not know," said Zoe Constantopoulou, head of the party Plefsi Eleftherias which co-signed the censure motion initiated by the Socialist PASOK party.

An investigation by a Greek magistrate into the crash is under way and is expected to be completed in the coming months.

Dozens of people have been charged, including a station master who is in custody pending trial.

To Vima newspaper reported on Saturday that a recording of a dialogue between the station master and the train driver, leaked to media hours after the crash, had been allegedly edited to put the blame on human error rather than systemic problems in the rail network.

Τwo ministers, both Mitsotakis' close aides, resigned on Thursday for meeting the owner of To Vima a day after the report was published.

Investigators hired by victims' relatives have also alleged that quickly removing burnt carriages from the crash site and laying down gravel might have destroyed evidence.

Mitsotakis' New Democracy party, which leads opinion polls, says the opposition is exploiting the case to benefit politically.

Justice Minister George Floridis called the allegations a "campaign of lies and deception".