The captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship is giving evidence for the first time at his trial, following the shipwreck off an Italian island that killed 32 people nearly three years ago.
This is a trial against a good man
Francesco Schettino, 54, is accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship.
He faces questions over his decision to sail close to the coast, which led to the ship running aground.
“This is not a trial against a killer, this is a trial against a good man who always behaved correctly, who worked hard all his life going up the ladder. An accident happened, an accident at sea as many others,” said Domenico Pepe, Schettino’s lawyer.
Reports from Italy say the captain has told the court he performed the manoeuvre to impress friends and colleagues on the island of Giglio.
A lawyer for the victims’ families, Fabio Targa, said they expected to establish the extent of the company’s responsibilities.
Costa Cruises is also being sued by authorities from Giglio and the Tuscany region.
As the ship listed before capsizing, passengers and crew either crammed into lifeboats or jumped into the water.
Schettino, who has promised to answer all prosecution questions, faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted.
The Costa Concordia was refloated in a massive salvage operation in July and towed to its home port of Genoa.