News

Concordia captain faces survivors

The former captain of the Costa Concordia faced survivors of the tragedy yesterday as proceedings began to determine whether he will stand trial for manslaughter and abandoning ship.

Francesco Schettino is among six crew members of the Concordia who are under investigation along with three employees of Costa’s crisis unit.

Attempts by Schettino’s lawyers for the inquiry to also investigate Concordia’s helmsman – who Schettino said delayed carrying out orders – were thrown out by the presiding judge.

Francesco Pepe, representing Schettino, had argued it was “absurd” to think that he was the only one responsible.

Schettino has admitted he made mistakes but has accused the company of mishandling the response, according to reports in the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

He said last week he is suing the cruise line for unfair dismissal.

Lawyers representing passengers said a 270-page report into the capsizing of the vessel contradicts Schettino’s version of events that he helped guide the ship into shallow water.

“He lost control of the steering and the propeller 90 seconds after the impact,” said Bruno Pisa, an electronics expert acting for two survivors. “The grounding was due to wind and current”.

Fredrik van Wijnen, general secretary of the Confederation of European Shipmasters’ Associations, said Schettino’s “playboy image” was his problem. But other than that he is “very capable”, he said.

Peter Ronai, representing 10 Hungarian passengers, said blame should also be attached to the “firm hiring Schettino” as well as building ships which are too tall and liable to tip over.

Attention also turned to the timing of the evacuation order. Lawyers said a conversation between the captain and a crisis unit member suggested the firm knew the ship was sinking but delayed giving the evacuation order.

The hearing will continue this week.

The Concordia is still submerged off the Italian coast. Two of the 32 people who died have yet to be found.



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