Lawyers for the captain of the Costa Concordia are in court in Rome on April 10, appealing their client's house arrest. Francesco Schettino has been under house arrest at his home near Naples since the day following the Jan. 13 tragic sinking.
Schettino will face charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship before all of her passengers were evacuated. As his lawyers argue for the lifting of his house arrest, prosecution lawyers are arguing that Schettino should be placed into prison to await the trial. No date for the trial has been set.
Captain Schettino: Too close to Giglio
The captain is expected to argue at trial that his pass close to the island of Giglio, which caused the ship to hit a rock, flounder and partially sink, was something he was expected to do by the ship's owners, Costa Cruises. He also has claimed he waited until passengers were safely off the ship before leaving himself. That argument seems to be refuted by a transcript of Schettino being told by the harbor authorities to return to his ship until she had been fully evacuated.
Costa Cruises has said they were unaware that Captain Schettino was endangering the ship by passing much too close to the shore of Giglio and maintain that he acted entirely on his own. The company has said all along their ships do not pass so close to land or deviate so dramatically from their course.
The Dutch marine salvage company, Smit Salvage, has successfully emptied all 17 tanks of the ship of oil and are now clearing debris from the ocean floor around the ship. Costa Cruises has taken tenders from 6 companies on the removal of the ship but has not awarded the contract as yet; the removal is expected to take 10 to 12 months.
It is believed that 32 people died that night; to date, 30 bodies have been recovered. The decision of the appeals court on whether he will remain under house arrest until his trial, be set free or be imprisoned is expected to come as early as Wednesday.