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Italian Judge Orders Criminal Trial for Costa Concordia Captain

  • VOA News

June 20, 2012: Vacationers bask in front of the wreckage of capsized cruise liner Costa Concordia near the harbour of Giglio Porto.

June 20, 2012: Vacationers bask in front of the wreckage of capsized cruise liner Costa Concordia near the harbour of Giglio Porto.

An Italian judge has ordered the captain of the capsized cruise ship Costa Concordia to stand trial for the deaths of 32 passengers.

Captain Francesco Schettino has been charged with manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, and abandoning ship before all the passengers were safe. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The Costa Concordia struck rocks and capsized off the coast of Tuscany, Italy on the night of January 12, 2012. More than 4,200 people were on board.

Schettino says he is innocent and that there were factors out of his control that led to the sinking.

Prosecutors say he deliberately steered the ship too close to the rocks, tearing a hole in it. Surviving passengers say the crew's rescue efforts were chaotic and useless.

Captain Schettino is the only person to go on trial for the sinking. The ship's owner has paid a fine and other crew members entered plea bargains to avoid trial.
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