NEWS

Report damns Tempe trucker

The truck involved in Greece’s worst-ever road accident, which cost the lives of 21 schoolchildren on April 13, had been dangerously overloaded and was probably hurtling through the narrow Tempe pass in northern Greece at a speed well over the legal limit, traffic police experts have found. Also, according to the findings of the investigation into the accident, which were leaked yesterday, the tachographs of both the truck and the coach in which the schoolchildren were traveling on a three-day school trip to Athens had been tampered with to allow driving above the legal speed limit. Tachographs are instruments that monitor heavy vehicles’ speed to facilitate inspections by traffic police. However, the investigation is more damning for 43-year-old Dimitris Dolas, who was driving the Athens-bound truck when its load of plywood boards came loose, scything through the school bus coming from the opposite direction, heading back to the children’s home village of Makrohori. The vehicle was found to have been carrying 26 tons of plywood – five tons above the legal limit. Traffic police experts said the truck went fast round a bend, and the excess load caused two of its wheels – whose tires had excessively worn treads – to rise into the air, making the driver lose control as the school bus approached. The coach was also found to have undergone illegal modifications to its chassis. Dolas, along with the truck’s two owners, was charged with «murder with possible malice aforethought» and jailed on April 19 pending trial. Another six people working at the Alexandroupolis-based Akritas wood-processing company where the truck was loaded, face the same charges. They were released on bail ranging from 3,000-20,000 euros.