GROSETTO, Italy (CBSMiami/AP) – It’s been more than a year since the Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian coast, but Tuesday the sole defendant in the case, Captain Franceso Schettino, was scheduled to go to trial in Italy.
However, a nationwide strike by lawyers quickly delayed the hearing. Schettino’s trial will be held in a theater that was converted into a courtroom to allow relatives of the victims to be in the courtroom.
Schettino faces charges including manslaughter, abandoning ship, and causing the shipwreck of the Concordia which was carrying 4,200 passengers and crew when it struck a jagged reef off the coast of Tuscany.
Captain Francesco Schettino claimed shortly after the accident that the rock that tore open his ship was not marked on his charts and that he was not too close to shore.
“We were about 300 meters from shore, more or less,” Schettino said. “We should not have had this contact.”
A French couple who boarded the Concordia in Marseille, Ophelie Gondelle and David Du Pays, told the Associated Press they saw the captain in a lifeboat, covered by a blanket, well before all the passengers were off the ship.
Last year, Costa chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi said ‘human error’ on the part of the captain was to blame for the grounding of the ship.
The company which operates the Costa Concordia, Costa Cruise Lines, has its U.S. head office in Hollywood, Florida. Costa Cruise Lines is owned by Doral-based Carnival Corp.
During the evacuation of the ship after the accident, passengers described the scene as chaotic and complained the crew failed to give instructions on how to evacuate and once the emergency became clear, delayed lowering the lifeboats until the ship was listing too heavily for many of them to be released.
The judge in the case adjourned the hearing until July 17 because of the lawyer’s strike. According to the Italian navigation code, a captain who abandons a ship in danger can face up to 12 years in prison.
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