The driver of a Spanish high-speed train that derailed and killed 79 people was released pending trial on charges of reckless homicide, a judge ruled on Sunday (July 28) night.

Francisco Garzon, 52, had been under arrest since Thursday (July 25). He is suspected of driving the train too fast through a tight curve on the outskirts of the north-western Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela.

Examining Magistrate Luis Alaez formally charged Garzon with "79 counts of homicide and numerous offences of bodily harm, all of them committed through professional recklessness," the court said in a statement.

In a closed-door hearing before Judge Alaez, Garzon admitted taking the curve too fast, blaming it on a momentary lapse, according to media reports.

Garzon has worked for Renfe for 30 years, 10 as a driver. His father also worked on the railways and he grew up in Renfe-owned housing in the north-western town of Monforte de Lemos and went to school with other train-workers' children.

After the accident he was hospitalised with a head injury. On Saturday he was released from the hospital but remained in police custody until he was taken to the hearing at Santiago de Compostela's main courthouse.

Neither lawyers nor members of Garzon's family could be reached for comment.

Presented by Adam Justice

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