More than two months of hearings are over and prosecutors in Grosetto, Italy looking into the tragedy of the Costa Concordia have concluded the case should go to a criminal trial. They will file a request for an indictment by the end of January.
Chief Prosecutor Francesco Verusio told Italian media Thursday he will request that Francesco Schettino, the disgraced captain of the ship, be charged with manslaughter, contravening laws of the sea and abandoning his ship.
Schettino is alleged to have attempted to form a 'salute' to a former colleague who lives on Giglio, an Italian island in the Tuscan Bay, by taking his ship in close to the shore; the 114,500 ton ship moved to some 300 metres from shore, hit a reef and capsized. Sixty-five per cent of the boat is now submerged. Thirty-two people died, with two bodies yet to be recovered.
Other employees of Costa Cruises, the owner/operator of the Costa Concordia, will also be charged with various offenses, including Schettino's first officer and three employees who work at the company's crisis center. Schettino, who testified at the hearings, claimed his actions saved lives but many witnesses described events that suggest otherwise.
Costa Concordia to be refloated and scrapped
The ship still sits 300 metres off-shore of Giglio and an American company, Titan Salvage, along with an Italian company, Micoperi, are working on refloating it and towing it to a port for scrapping. They initially expected to tow the ship by the end of January; that date was moved to Spring and now they do not expect to have the Costa Concordia removed until June.
If found guilty, Verusio said that the 52-year-old Schettino could face up to 20 years in jail.