- (Photo: REUTERS/Italian Guardia di Finanza)
- Reuters/Tony Gentile
Francesco Schettino, the captain of the wrecked Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia, entered an Italian court to hear the evidence against him on Monday.
Schettino is accused of negligently steering the cruise ship too close to shore while conducting a maneuver known as a "salute" where the cruise liner paralleled the shore and came very close to land.
Thirty-two people were killed during the wreck on Jan. 13 after Schettino took the cruise ship off course. The vessel carrying 4,200 passengers and crewmembers came close to the Tuscan island of Giglio, where it struck a rock in the Tyrrhenian Sea. The gash on the side of the ship flooded the engine rooms and caused the ship to capsize just hours after it had left port.
Making the case against him worse, Schettino left the ship before everyone was evacuated after it ran ashore and became capsized.
Costa Concordia passengers who survived the wreck as well as victims' loved ones attended the court hearing seeking compensation on Monday.
"We want to look him in the eyes and see how he will react to the accusations," one survivor, Michael Liessen of Germany, told Yahoo News.
Schettino donned dark glasses and entered the Tuscan city of Grosseto's court through a back entrance on Monday without speaking to reporters.
Hearings this week will determine if Schettino will undergo a trial over his charges of manslaughter after causing the shipwreck and abandoning the ship while passengers and crew were still aboard. Meanwhile, the captain maintains his innocence, claiming that the rock was not on his navigational charts.
The Costa Concordia was the second cruise ship wrecked by Schettino. In 2010, the captain damaged the Aida Blu by sailing too quickly into a German harbor.
Nevertheless, the hulk of the Concordia still lies on its side off the Tuscan coast and just outside of Giglio's port. Specialists are carefully executing a plan to salvage the 1,000-foot long vessel so it can be towed to the mainland.