By Euro Weekly News Media •
Published: 27 Feb 2014 • 17:47
The wreck of cruise liner Costa Concordia
Amidst chaotic scenes, Francesco Schettino, the captain blamed for the death of 32 people aboard the Costa Concordia, returned to the vessel for the first time in two years.
The disgraced captain returned to the wreck as part of his manslaughter trial.
The ship hit a reef near the island of Giglio in January 2012 and capsized, with the loss of 32 lives. Schettino denies the charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship which could see him facing jail for up to 20 years.
He was taken out to the wreck in a small boat and is said to have wept at the scene. He was allowed on the ship “as a defendant, not a consultant”, said Judge Giovanni Puliatti.
The 290 metre long vessel was righted in September 2013 in one of the largest and most complex salvage operations ever.
The captain was accused of abandoning the luxury liner before all the 4,229 people on board had been taken off. He denies the accusations and maintains that he steered the stricken vessel closer to the shore to avoid it sinking in deep water where hundreds might have drowned.
His lawyer Domenici Pepe said the captain’s former employer, Costa Crociere, had shifted the blame towards him. Five others have been convicted by an Italian court of manslaughter after plea bargaining but Schettino’s request for a plea bargain was denied.
The complex operation to salvage the Costa Concordia took 18 hours and followed months of stabilisation and preparation work by a team of 500 engineers and divers.
Ports in Italy, Britain, France, Turkey and China are now bidding for the lucrative contract to dismantle it.
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