16 Apr 2013

Cruise ship disaster back in court

5:32 am on 16 April 2013

The Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster has returned to court in Italy with the start of a series of hearings against six people charged with manslaughter, including captain Francesco Schettino.

Thirty two people lost their lives when the liner crashed into an Italian island and keeled over on 13 January, 2012.

Schettino is accused of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, misinforming the coast guards during the rescue operation and abandoning the ship.

He has denied abandoning ship while passengers still had to be evacuated, telling investigators that he fell off the liner when it tilted at almost 90 degrees.

Most of the 4229 passengers and crew were evacuated with the ship's lifeboats but hundreds had to jump into the sea and swim ashore to the island of Giglio in the dark.

The court has scheduled 40 pre-trial hearings lasting into July before it rules on whether a trial should go ahead and when it will take place.