A pre-trial hearing for the captain of the Costa Concordia will begin in Italy on Saturday.
Francesco Schettino, who’s under house arrest, is facing a string of charges including multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship after the vessel capsized in January.
At least 25 people died when the cruise liner was steered too close to the shore, by the Mediterranean island of Giglio. Seven more are unaccounted for.
Schettino’s lawyer Bruno Leporatti says his client will not attend the hearing because of fears for his personal safety.
“There’s no need for him to make an 850 kilometre round trip on this occasion and perhaps in light of the current climate, it could be a little dangerous for him.”
Schettino has been condemned and ridiculed by much of the world’s media but has always maintained he shouldn’t be blamed for the disaster.
The hearing in the Tuscan town of Grosseto, will be held in a theatre, because of the number of victims’ relatives expected to attend.
Hundreds of people are expected to testify. Evidence from the ship’s black box recorders will also be shown.
Costa’s problems don’t end with this trial. The firm, along with parent company Carnival Corp, face a wave of civil suits from the victims’ families and crew members.