Costa Concordia Captain's Trial Delayed Due to Lawyer Strike in Italy

Image: Costa Concordia Captain's Trial Delayed Due to Lawyer Strike in Italy

Tuesday, 09 Jul 2013 02:43 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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The trial of the Costa Concordia cruise liner captain, who faces multiples charges of manslaughter, has been delayed due to a lawyers' strike in Italy. The ship flipped on its side near Giglio, Italy, in January 2012 after moving too close to the shore.

Captain Francesco Schettino's trial was postponed until July 17, said The Guardian.

The newspaper said lawyers nationwide are angry about measures aimed at streamlining civil trials. Attorneys are also mad at justice minister Anna Maria Cancellieri for accusing them of blocking the reforms.

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The International Business Times reports that data from the ship's black box suggests Schettino steered it too close to the coast in the hope of performing a sail-past salute to the island's inhabitants.

The cruise ship, which still sits outside the Tuscan port of Giglio, struck rocks during the maneuver, which eventually caused the vessel to tumble onto its side. A chaotic evacuation of 4,000 passengers followed.

The Costa Concordia shipwreck killed 32 people. Schettino could face up to 20 years in jail, his lawyer has said, according to The Guardian.

Schettino's public image has taken a beating since the wreck, dubbed "captain coward" after he was accused of abandoning the ship before some passengers as it sank, according to the International Business Times.

Prosecutors accepted plea deals from four officials connected with the Costa Cruises, which owns the cruise ship, The Guardian said. Prosecutors, though, rejected a deal for Schettino, leaving him for trial.

Americans Gerald and Barbara Heil of Minnesota were among the 32 people who died in the shipwreck, according to CBS News.

CBS reported that Schettino's lawyers will likely argue in trial that the captain saved lives that day by his actions and does not bear sole responsibility for the accident, that it should be shared with the crew and ship owners. CBS News said that hundreds of witnesses and plaintiffs could be called during the trial.

In the meantime, work continues for a planned salvage of the ship. The first phase of the huge joint U.S.-Italian operation, which is designed to bring the ship into its upright position, is scheduled to take place in September, according to CBS News.

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Related stories:

Cruise Ship Overboard: Couple Seen Falling From Carnival Spirit

Costa Concordia Shipwreck Captain to Face Italy Manslaughter Trial

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