Costa Concordia charges announced
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 15:59
Costa Concordia charges announcedCapt Schettino could face 20 years in jail if convicted

The captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship which ran aground off Italy with the loss of 32 lives is to be tried on 9 July.

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

The ship crashed into the island of Giglio off Tuscany in January 2012 before tipping onto its side.

Capt Schettino denies the charges and says that without his actions many more people would have died.

Much of the case against him has already been disclosed in a report by court-appointed experts.

He has been accused of leaving the luxury liner before all those on board - 4,229 - had been evacuated and steering it too fast and too close to shore.

Capt Schettino is alleged to have been trying to carry out a night-time, sail-past salute to people on tiny Giglio.

He has already accepted some degree of responsibility, asking for forgiveness in a television interview last year as he talked of those who died.

However, Capt Schettino maintains he managed to steer the stricken vessel closer to shore so it did not sink in deep water where hundreds might have drowned.


His lawyers say he is being made a scapegoat for what was simply an accident.

The vessel was holed by rocks just as many passengers were dining on the first night of their cruise. A disorganised evacuation followed as many of those on board panicked when the ship began to tilt to one side.

The trial will take place in Grosseto, the city nearest to the site of the wreck.

Five other suspects in the investigation, including the head of the crisis unit of the ship owner, Costa Cruises, and four ship's officers, have entered plea bargains which will now be considered by the judge. They could face up to two years and 10 months in prison.

Capt Schettino's lawyers say he faces a maximum 20 years in jail if found guilty.

Costa Cruises, part of the American-based Carnival Corporation, agreed to pay a $1.3m (£860,000) fine in April to settle possible criminal charges.

Most passengers have already accepted compensation of about 11,000 euros ($14,200: £9,400) each, but remaining groups of survivors are holding out for more.

The Costa Concordia still lies partially submerged while salvage crews work to refloat it.

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