Cruise liner captain’s trial postponed

Lawyers’ strike means case of Concordia’s skipper will take place on July 17th

A firefighter helicopter flies over the Costa Concordia cruise ship after it ran aground off the west coast of Italy at Giglio island January 19th, 2012. Photograph: Paul Hanna/Reuters

A firefighter helicopter flies over the Costa Concordia cruise ship after it ran aground off the west coast of Italy at Giglio island January 19th, 2012. Photograph: Paul Hanna/Reuters

Wed, Jul 10, 2013, 15:02

The trial of Francesco Schettino, the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise liner which ran aground off the island of Giglio with the loss of 32 lives in January 2012, started in the Tusan town of Grosseto yesterday but was immediately postponed until July 17th because of a lawyers’ strike.

In the 18 months since the Concordia shipwreck, progress in dealing with fallout from this disaster has been typically slow both from the judicial and environmental viewpoints. The ship still lies on its side, looking like a monstrous grounded whale, just a few metres from the Giglio shoreline and not far from the island harbour.

As for the judicial proceedings, yesterday’s hearing was to have marked the formal start of proceedings against Capt Schettino.

Plea bargain
Although five of the ship’s officials have opted to plea bargain, Capt Schettino, who was in Grosseto yesterday for the brief hearing, has said that he wants to stand trial, facing charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship. Capt Schettino argues that he has been made a scapegoat for tragedy in order to deflect attention from the legal responsibilities of the ship’s owners, the Costa Concordia company. Furthermore, he argues that his seafaring skills enabled him to steer the stricken vessel close to land, in that way preventing a higher death toll.