Costa Cruises' Costa Concordia ran aground off the coast of Italy on Jan. 13, 2012.(Photo: Pier Paolo Cito AP)
GROSSETO, Italy -- The former captain of the shipwrecked Costa
Concordia cruise liner came to an Italian court on Monday to hear the
evidence against him, while passengers who survived the Jan. 13
collision in which 32 died showed up to look him in the eye.
dark glasses, Francesco Schettino used a back entrance to slip into a
theater in the Tuscan city of Grosseto that is serving as a courtroom.
He made no comment to reporters outside.
The Concordia ran aground
and capsized off the Tuscan island of Giglio after Schettino took it
off course and brought it close to the island as part of a stunt.
this week will help decide whether a judge will order trial for
Schettino, who is charged with manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and
abandoning ship while passengers and crew were still aboard. He denies
the charges. Any trial is unlikely to begin before next year.
than 1,000 survivors, victims' relatives and their lawyers are
attending the closed-door hearing to discuss the evidence against
Schettino and eight other defendants, including crew members and
officials from Concordia owner Costa Crociere SpA, which is owned by
Miami-based Carnival Corp.
"We want to look him in the eye to see
how he will react to the accusations," said German survivor Michael
Liessen, 50, who was attending Monday's hearing along with his wife.
month, four court-appointed experts delivered a 270-page report of what
went wrong that night based on an analysis of data recorders, ship
communications equipment, testimony and other evidence.
experts - two admirals and two engineers - lay most of the blame for the
collision with the reef and the botched evacuation on Schettino. But
they also noted that not all crew members understood Italian, not all
had current certification for evacuation procedures, and not all
passengers had participated in evacuation drills.
described a confused and delayed evacuation, with many of the lifeboats
unable to be lowered because the boat was listing too far to one side.
Some of the 4,200 people aboard jumped into the Mediterranean and swam
to Giglio, while others had to be plucked from the vessel by rescue
helicopters hours after the collision.
Schettino has insisted that
by guiding the stricken ship to shallower waters near Giglio's port
instead of immediately ordering an evacuation he potentially saved
lives. He has claimed that another official, and not he, was at the helm
when the ship struck.
The timeline in the expert report, however, makes clear that he had assumed command six minutes before the ship struck the reef.