The captain of the ill-fated Costa Concordia made his first court appearance this week in Italy. Captain Francesco Schettino steered the cruise ship into a reef off the coast of Giglio Island on Jan. 13, 2012 which led to the death of 32 passengers, most of whom drowned inside the vessel. Schettino is charged with three criminal charges including involuntary manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship.
Schettino testified this week that he steered the cruise ship closer to shore so he could “pay homage to the island.” He denies that he is guilty of manslaughter, rather, the captain pointed fingers at members of his own crew and the ship itself.
Schettino’s attorneys have made the argument that the collision did not cause any fatalities in itself. Rather that it was the vessel’s unseaworthy conditions that lead to the deaths. The defense blames a failed backup generator and supposedly watertight compartments which became flooded with water. The captain also rejects allegations that he abandoned ship, and instead claims he was thrown into the water as the ship rolled onto its side.
Captain Francesco Schettino faces trial alone. Five other defendants have already reached plea deals. Trial began in July 2013 and is expected to continue into 2015. Schettino is currently under house arrest and faces more than 20 years in prison if found guilty.