Costa Concordia Captain Schettino trial adjourned

BBC World Affairs Correspondent, Christian Fraser: 'Captain Schettino faces up to twenty years in jail.'

The trial of the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which ran aground off Italy last year, has opened and been adjourned until next week.

Capt Francesco Schettino, 52, faces charges of multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship.

Thirty-two people died when the ship hit rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio in January 2012 and then tipped onto its side.

Tuesday's hearing was adjourned because of a nationwide lawyers' strike.

Capt Schettino has been accused of steering the luxury liner too fast and too close to the shore, and of leaving the ship before all of the 4,229 passengers and crew were taken off.

He was allegedly performing a risky night-time sail-past salute to people on the tiny island of Giglio.

The ship was holed by rocks on the left-hand side causing it to list, as passengers dined on the first night of the cruise.

A chaotic and disorganised evacuation ensued. By the time the order to evacuate came, the Costa Concordia was listing so far to one side that many lifeboats could not be used.

Disaster timeline

  • 13 Jan 2012: Costa Concordia runs aground
  • 31 Jan: Search for bodies abandoned
  • 12 Feb: Fuel removal operation finally begins
  • 24 March: Fuel removal work completed
  • 15 Oct: Capt Schettino appears at court inquiry
  • 22 May: Court decides to try Capt Schettino for multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship
  • 9 Jul: Trial of Capt Schettino begins and is adjourned

The liner is still lying on its side, half-submerged, off Giglio. Two people are still listed as missing.

Eyesore

Capt Schettino denies the charges, and his defence is expected to argue that no single person was to blame for the accident.

He claims his manoeuvring of the ship closer to shore saved lives.

The trial is being heard in Grosseto, a city 90 miles (145km) north-west of Rome which is nearest to the site of the wreck. It is taking place in the city's theatre, rather than its small courthouse.

In addition to the hundreds of survivors seeking compensation, the local authorities in Giglio are hoping for at least 80m euros (£68m; $105m) to make up for alleged lost revenue and the eyesore that has been on its shoreline.

Up to 430 witnesses and 250 plaintiffs could be called during Capt Schettino's trial, AFP news agency reports.

His lawyers say he faces a maximum 20 years in jail if found guilty.

The Costa Concordia still lies partially submerged off the coast of Giglio while salvage crews work to refloat it.

More on This Story

Cruise disaster

More Europe stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.