Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis gave his first televised interview of the year to Skai TV on Tuesday morning, responding to several current affairs, where he emphasized that allegations claiming a cover-up of the Tempi train crash are unsubstantiated.

More specifically, Mitsotakis said ongoing investigations on the cause of the train crash are proceeding while brushing off allegations as unfounded that land-filling at the crash site intended to cover up any responsible parties or hide the existence of toxic substances that caused an explosion upon the collision’s impact was taking place, adding he is fully confident in the country’s judiciary process.

Fifty-seven people perished in the rail disaster caused when a passenger train and a freight train collided head-on halfway between the municipalities of Tempi and Evangelismos in Thessaly, central Greece, just before midnight on Feb. 28, 2023.

Relatives of one of the locomotive engineers who perished in the two-train collision have filed a lawsuit asking for one million euros in compensation for non-pecuniary losses and suffering due to the death of their relative.

The Greek prime minister called the public discourse surrounding the Tempi crash “very saddening and unpleasant,” adding that “cover-up” speculation over who was responsible should be avoided as it diminished the significance of the tragedy while hindering the pursuit of truth and justice. “Only the judiciary can have the final say. It is entirely reasonable for the opposition to accuse the government of reaping political benefits. There have been times when we chose not to do the same,” he stated.

Regarding the allegations of a cover-up, Mitsotakis wondered what was being covered up, exactly.

“For some to talk about clearing or cementing [the crash site] is regrettable and infuriating. The work was done by officials in the best possible way. Were there wagons that disappeared? What happened? Were they vaporized?” the PM asked rhetorically, adding that he also was awaiting answers to questions posed by experts investigating the accident. Mitsotakis also criticized his political opponents for exploiting the tragedy to score political points.

He also commented on a recent homophobic incident in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, where two members of the LGBTQ community were accosted by a group of individuals resulting in multiple arrests, including some minors. The PM made it clear that those responsible for the attack should and will be punished, once found guilty, under the new legal provisions about bullying and discrimination. “There was a mobilization of society that says ‘we are not them’,” he remarked.

“The government,” added Mitsotakis, “is making significant interventions regarding bullying in schools because many young people were involved in the incident in Thessaloniki. The platform for bullying is activated to combat instances of violence. Obviously, it is not a matter that can only be addressed punitively. The presence of the police, especially in neighborhoods, has been intensified,”, Mitsotakis said.

Asked about the current state of Greece’s paltry, by European standards, rail network, he said that “…at this time, the railway is as safe as it can be, while burdened by the problems inherited from past decades, which cannot be solved overnight.”