Francesco Schettino, the captain of the cruise liner Costa Concordia that ran aground on a Tuscan island in January killing 32 people, appeared in court Monday as hearings to decide whether to indict him and others for the shipwreck began. Schettino is under investigation for multiple manslaughter, abandoning his post before the evacuation of all 4,200 passengers and crew had been completed and failing to communicate properly with the maritime authorities, the Italian news agency Ansa reported.
The ex-captain, who was sacked last week by the Costa Crociere parent company, arrived 20 minutes early, entering through a side door of the Teatro Moderno in the Tuscan town of Grosseto where the proceedings are taking place.
The judge who oversaw preliminary investigations, Valeria Montesarchio, will preside over hearings.
Schettino's second in command, Ciro Ambrosio, officer Salvatore Ursino and the head of the Costa Cruises fleet, Roberto Ferrarini, who are also being investigated, arrived at the Tuscan court with their attorneys.
Monday's hearing will examine testimonies, the contents of the ship's black box and take place behind closed doors.
A survivor of the shipwreck, Ernesto Carusotti commented outside the court that "Schettino has his responsibility, but behind the tragedy there are other failings that someone must answer to".