Greek journalists strike over railway tragedy

Journalists in Greece staged a 24-hour strike on Wednesday as part of a two-day protest this week over a train tragedy last month that killed 57 people.

The Poesy Journalists’ Union said the strike was in support of “a nationwide demand to hold accountability for (educating) the crime and to take all measures” to prevent further loss of life.

The accident occurred shortly before midnight on February 28 when a passenger train crashed into a freight train in central Greece after both trains were mistakenly left on the same track.

Most of the passengers were students returning from the holiday weekend.

Several people are still in the hospital and one passenger is still fighting for his life.

A general strike will be held Thursday in response to a tragedy that has exposed decades of security breaches on Greek railways and put serious pressure on the conservative government ahead of national elections.

The stationmaster and three other railroad officials were charged, but public anger focused on the network’s longstanding mismanagement, and a series of massive, sometimes violent, protests rocked the country.

About 12,000 demonstrators gathered outside the parliament on Sunday, while 5,000 took to the streets of Thessaloniki’s second city, police said.

Greece’s transport minister resigned after the crash, and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tried to calm public anger by repeatedly apologizing and promising a transparent investigation.

Acting Transport Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis said this week that rail traffic would gradually resume from March 22.

Gerapetritis and the former transport ministers will appear before a parliamentary committee on Monday to answer MPs’ questions about the tragedy.

With public anger building in the weeks leading up to the election, Mitsotakis saw Mitsotakis’ lead in the polls at 7.5 points cut in half in recent polls.

The prime minister was criticized for initially pointing out “human error” in the accident and blaming the then-on-duty stationmaster for allegedly accidentally diverting trains onto the same section of track.

But rail unions have long warned of problems with the underfunded and understaffed train network.

Mitsotakis was expected to set an election date in April. Voting is now expected in May.