Italy court considers possible charges in Costa Concordia disaster after deaths of 32 passengers

Prosecutors want captain to stand trial for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship

An Italian court is deciding whether the captain and some crew of the Costa Concordia cruise ship will face trial for the 2012 disaster off Tuscany that killed 32 people.

Prosecutors want Francesco Schettino to stand trial for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship before all the 4,200 passengers and crew had been evacuated. They want four other crew and a Costa manager on land to face charges of having botched the emergency.

Schettino did not comment as he arrived for the preliminary, closed-door hearing in the Tuscan city of Grosseto, where a theatre has been converted into a court to accommodate all the civil parties to the case.

A decision on the indictment was not expected immediately, lawyers said, as the session was devoted to technical matters that also involved the hundreds of passengers seeking damages due to their injuries, trauma and losses.

Schettino ordered the ship taken off course on January 13, 2012, to bring it closer to the island of Giglio as a favour to friends. But it hit a reef off the island, leaving a 230-foot gash in the hull and causing the liner to capsize. Passengers recounted a harrowing and delayed evacuation: by the time Schettino ordered them to evacuate, the ship was listing so far to one side that many lifeboats could not be lowered.

Schettino has defended his actions, saying he saved lives by bringing the ship closer to port and that the reef was not on his charts.

His first officer on duty on the bridge at the time of the collision, Ciro Ambrosino, is one of the four crew accused. His lawyer Salvatore Catalano, said his client was "shocked and still suffering" from what happened.

"But from the point of view of responsibility, I can absolutely exclude that Ciro Ambrosio is responsible," Mr Catalano said.

Lawyers representing hundreds of victims were on hand for the hearing to make the case for compensation from Costa Crociere well beyond what the company, a division of Miami-based Carnival, offered in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. Two weeks after the capsizing, Costa offered passengers 11,000 euros plus reimbursement for the costs of their cruises and extra travel expenses.

"As far as we know, the latest negotiations reached 27,000 euros, as a last offer from Costa," said Massimiliano Gabrieli, who is representing several dozen Italian passengers who suffered mostly post-traumatic stress and slight injuries. "We will ask for €1 million of compensation for each passenger."

Costa lawyer Marco De Luca said the request was ridiculous. "Why not €10 million? That wouldn't be bad," he said sarcastically as he arrived for the hearing. "There would be a run to get on board ships hoping for an accident."

Last week, a judge fined Costa a million euros in administrative sanctions under a plea bargain. Under Italian law, companies can face such sanctions when their employees commit crimes.

The Concordia remains on its side, grounded off Giglio's port. Officials are preparing the ship to be rolled upright and towed from the rocks to a port to be dismantled - an operation on a scale that has never before been attempted.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before