Fortuitous motives forced Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino to leave the sinking cruiseliner before all passengers had been evacuated, a lawyer representing the disgraced seaman told a preliminary court hearing on Friday.
Francesco Schettino, captain of Costa Concordia, dubbed by the media as "Captain Coward" spoke at a pretrial hearing October 18, where he said many people share responsibility for the accident that claimed 32 lives. However, the legal representative of the parent company Costa Crociere dismissed as "less serious than others" statements made by Schettino that appeared to put the blame on his subordinates. Meanwhile a new technical report presented by the prosecution reportedly confirmed that Schettino lost control of the ship immediately after hitting rocks and made clear his responsibility in ordering the manouvre that led to the disaster.
Speaking for the first time at the hearings, Schettino said he was to blame for steering the ship into a rocky area in waters off the coast of the Italian island of Giglio, according to Reuters. Still, he said the incident would have been more disastrous had he not steered Concordia toward shallow waters.
Schettino is accused of causing a shipwreck, abandoning ship before all passengers debarked and 32 counts of manslaughter. Eight others, including crewmembers and Costa's crisis coordinator, also are under investigation. None have been charged.
The pretrial hearings, which aren't open to the media, are being held in Grosseto, Italy. They will determine whether anyone will be indicted and were expected to conclude October 18. A trial isn't likely until 2013.
At the hearings this week, expert witnesses testified about onboard equipment issues and Schettino's actions. Experts said several crucial pieces of equipment, including the sonar depth sounder, were turned off at the time of the January 13 accident, according to Reuters.