years after Concordia wreck, captain returns aboard
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[February 27, 2014]
By Silvia Ognibene
GIGLIO, Italy (Reuters) - The captain of
the Costa Concordia, Francesco Schettino, went back on board on Thursday
for the first time since the huge cruise liner sank with the loss of 32
lives just over two years ago, accompanying experts investigating the
The twisted wreck of the 290-metre-long ship, now stabilized after
a complex salvage operation last year, sits propped up on underwater
platforms just outside the port of Giglio, the island off the Tuscan
coast where it capsized on January 13, 2012.
Schettino, who faces multiple charges including manslaughter,
causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship, went aboard the vessel with
a expert team appointed by the court but is only present as a
defendant and is taking no active part in the investigation.
Residents of Giglio, a tiny island that lives off tourism, are
impatient to see the wreck towed away and reaction to Schettino's
visit was largely "indifferent", the mayor of Giglio, Sergio Ortelli
"I don't why he wanted to come here, maybe to see things," said
Ariento Italo, a resident. "I just don't know what he is going to do
- he will see things that he already knows and anyway everything is
all smashed up."
However, his lawyers say the investigation will be able to ascertain
whether the ship's equipment was working correctly or whether
malfunctions caused the incident or worsened conditions during the
chaotic nighttime evacuation of the ship.
"We've been asking for these checks for two years," said Domenico
Pepe, one of Schettino's defense team. "If the generator had worked
properly nothing would have happened. Without the generator, the
rudder, the lights, the doors, the pumps and the lifeboats didn't
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It is the first time Schettino has been aboard since the
114,500-tonne Concordia, carrying 4,229 passengers and crew, struck
a reef while performing a display maneuver in which it came close to
shore to "salute" the port.
Stripped of his maritime licence, Schettino is the only person on
trial after four crew members and an official of the ship operator
Costa Cruises were sentenced to terms of up to 34 months in prison
after pleading guilty last year.
He has admitted that he bears responsibility for the accident as the
ship's captain. But he says that he is not the only person to blame
and has pushed for the vessel to be examined for evidence of
possible technical faults.
However the investigation has already been clouded by allegations
that two officials of the ship's owners, Costa Cruises boarded the
wreck without authorization. A separate probe has been opened into
(Additional reporting by Gabriele Pileri; Writing By James
Mackenzie; Editing by Alison Williams)
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