Costa Concordia Captain Francesco Schettino was permitted to tour the ship he is accused of sinking. On Thursday, Schettino boarded and toured the ship for four hours. The former captain joined several experts, who will testify during his trial. Schettino is charged with causing a disaster, abandoning ship, and manslaughter.
On January 13, 2012, the luxury liner was on the first leg of a trip around the Mediterranean Sea. The former captain suggested that the ship sail off course to approach Isola del Giglio. Schettino planned to salute a dear friend and former colleague, who resides on the island.
As Costa Concordia approached the shore, it became hopelessly lodged on a coral reef. Although the captain attempted to correct his error, it was simply too late. The enormous ship began to fill with water.
Witnesses testified that the former captain “jumped into a lifeboat” and left the ship as it was sinking. Authorities estimate more than 1,000 passengers remained on board as Schettino fled to the shore. A total of 32 passengers and crew were killed in the disaster.
The ship eventually came to rest on its side against the shore. It was declared a total loss and will be sold as scrap. Officials have spent more than $800 million recovering victims, removing debris, draining the ships’ fuel, and rotating it to an upright position.
The former captain has taken responsibility for going off course. However, he claims he was pushed into the lifeboat by falling debris. As reported by CNN, he also argued that the ship’s watertight doors malfunctioned, contributing to the disaster.
The experts, who toured Costa Concordia on Thursday, are tasked with determining if the ship was mechanically sound when it crashed. Schettino’s attorneys petitioned the court to allow his inclusion on the tour.
Although the former captain refused to discuss the tour, he made a brief statement to the press:
“I have taken responsibilities for my actions and am undergoing a trial.”
The former captain has defended his actions on numerous occasions. However, he admits that he suffers incredible guilt.
Italy’s civil protection chief recently announced that the ship will be moved to another port in June. Ports in several countries have expressed interest in using the ship for scrap. However, the receiving port will be responsible for the cost of transport.
Possible destinations include Britain, China, France, Italy, and Turkey. However, Environment Minister Andrea Orlando said the Costa Concordia will likely remain in Italy.
[Image via Wikimedia]