The captain of the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship is on trial again after the process was delayed by a lawyers’ strike last week.
Francesco Schettino is accused of manslaughter and other crimes relating to last year’s crash which killed 32 people. He is also charged with abandoning ship before all crew and passengers and causing the ship’s demise.
But his lawyer, Francesco Pepe, argued he prevented an even worse disaster by steering the 290-metre vessel into shallow waters after the impact and that he was thrown overboard due to the angle of the leaning ship.
“He has never shied away from his responsibilities. He was the captain and it is right that for certain things he should be the point of reference, but it is not right to blame him for responsibilities that he did not have,” said Pepe.
The crash outside the port of Giglio in January 2012 was one of Italy’s most dramatic marine incidents, setting off a chaotic night-time evacuation of more than 4,000 passengers and crew.
Salvagers are still struggling to pull the vessel upright amid risks it could break up. Costa Cruises, a unit of Carnival, agreed to pay a one million euro fine to settle potential criminal charges in April. That means that for now Schettino is the only person facing trial.