Ahead of memorial events to mark the anniversary of the Costa Concordia disaster this weekend, the magistrate who led the investigation into the tragedy has said the Captain of the 4000-passenger cruise liner manoeuvered it "like a canoe".
Grosseto prosecutor Francesco Verusio was the first magistrate at the scene of the accident on 13 January last year, when the liner collided with rocks close to the island of Giglio off the Tuscan coast. As a result, the ship partially capsized, killing 32 passengers.
The damning remarks from Mr Verusio come just days after the captain, Francesco Schettino, complained of being portrayed as “worse than Bin Laden”. Mr Schettino is likely to be indicted on charges of multiple manslaughter and illegally abandoning ship.
In an interview with the Florence edition of Corriere Della Sera, Mr Verusio said Mr Schettino’s central role in the tragedy “emerged immediately”.
“It was evident that that he was the person responsible. We could have tried him there on the spot,” Mr Verusio said. “It emerged that he had been on the bridge of the Concordia, guiding a ship of over 300 metres and more than 4,000 people, as if it were a canoe.”
Prosecutors are expected to request indictments against Mr Schettino, five other crew members, and three senior Costa Cruises officials at the start of February.
As the first anniversary of the disaster approaches, the Irwin Mitchell law firm, which represent victims from Britain and a number of other countries around the world, criticised the actions of the crew and the tardy decision to evacuate the vessel, which has been blamed for most of the deaths.
In Giglio on Sunday [13 January], a special mass will be held at the island’s port at the Church of Saints Lorenzo and Massimiliano, in sight of the wreck, which still juts out of the sea just beyond the small harbour.