With the anniversary of the Costa Concordia disaster just days away, the magistrate who led the investigation has said the captain of the 4,000-passenger cruise liner manoeuvred it "like a canoe".
Grosseto prosecutor Francesco Verusio was the first magistrate at the scene of the accident, which occurred on 13 January last year when the liner collided with rocks close to the island of Giglio, off the Tuscan coast, causing it partially capsize, killing 32 passengers.
In an interview with the Florence edition of Corriere Della Sera, Mr Verusio said the role of the ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, "emerged immediately".
"It was evident that that he was the person responsible. We could have tried him there on the spot. 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," he said.
Prosecutors are expected to request indictments against Mr Schettino and five other crew members and three senior Costa Cruises officials next month. On Sunday a special mass will be held in Giglio's port in sight of the wreck, which juts out of the sea just beyond the small harbour. A bronze commemorative plaque will then be placed there in memory of victims of the disaster.