January 8, 2013
(6 p.m. EST) -- With independent civil lawsuits, pretrial hearings, expert reports and announcements from prosecutors all vying for space in news headlines, it is easy to lose track of where the official trial in the Costa Concordia shipwreck case stands.
At the center of legal proceedings in the Concordia case is Captain Francesco Schettino, who was at the helm when Concordia ran aground off the coast of the Italian island of Giglio on January 13, 2012. But it is important to note that Schettino is not the only person under investigation.
At last report, nine people could be indicted for actions related to the sinking of Concordia and the loss of 32 lives. The nine include Schettino, the first officer and four other crewmembers, as well as three members of a crisis unit set up by Costa Cruises to deal with the accident, according to Reuters.
Italian prosecutors based in Grosseto, Italy, who concluded their pretrial investigation just before Christmas, announced they would present their findings this month and request that the judge in the case make indictments by the first week in February.
According to the lead investigator, Schettino will be accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship. It is up to the judge to determine whether there is enough evidence to hold a trial.
In September, court-appointed experts delivered a 270-page report about the Concordia accident based on an analysis of "black box" data recorders, ship communications equipment and eyewitness testimony.
The experts laid most of the blame for the collision with the reef and the bungled evacuation on Schettino, but also found significant fault with Costa Crociere and the ship's crew. According to the Associated Press, the investigators noted "not all crewmembers understood Italian, not all had current safety and evacuation certifications, and not all passengers had had the chance to participate in evacuation drills."
In a subsequent statement, Costa Cruises, a division of Carnival Corporation, distanced itself from the findings in the report and placed all the blame squarely on Schettino.
--by Jamey Bergman, U.K. Production Editor