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Spanish train crash driver charged

The driver of a Spanish train that derailed at high speed killing 79 people has been provisionally charged with multiple cases of negligent homicide.

Investigative magistrate Luis Alaez released Francisco Jose Garzon Amo without bail, according to a court statement issued late on Sunday.

Garzon must appear before court once a week and is forbidden to leave Spain without permission.

Garzon was driving the train carrying 218 passenger in eight cars which far exceeded the 50 mph speed limit and hurtled into a high-risk curve on Wednesday evening, tumbling off the tracks and slamming into a concrete wall.

Garzon was not sent to jail or required to post bail because none of the parties involved felt there was a risk of him fleeing or attempting to destroy evidence, the statement said. It said the train driver's licence had also been withdrawn.

Garzon was questioned for almost two hours at the court in Santiago de Compostela, the north-west town near where the accident happened.

The Spanish rail agency has said the brakes should have been applied 2.5 miles before the train hit the curve. However, a local resident who rushed to the scene of the accident said in an interview broadcast on Sunday that minutes after the crash Garzon had told him he had been going fast and could not brake.

The resident, Evaristo Iglesias, said he and another person accompanied the blood-soaked Garzon to flat ground where other injured people were being laid out, waiting for emergency services to arrive. "He told us that he wanted to die. He said he had needed to brake but couldn't." Mr Iglesias told Antena 3 television.

Mr Iglesias was among the survivors and witnesses who began to give evidence to police on Sunday.

Investigators must determine if Garzon failed to apply the brakes or whether it was a technical failure.

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