The trial, which is taking place in the Tuscan town of Grosseto, was immediately postponed until next Wednesday (July 17), due to a nationwide strike to protest measures designed to shorten civil trials. The Italian justice minister's accusation that lawyers were blocking reforms was also listed as a cause for strike action.
Concordia Captain Francesco Schettino turned up at court today to be greeted by a pack of reporters, but refused to answer any questions.
He is facing a number of charges, including multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship. If found guilty, he faces up to 20 years in jail.
State prosecutors rejected a plea bargain offer from lawyers in May but accepted those of five other officials, including four ship's officers and the crisis coordinator of the vessel's owners, Costa Cruises, whose parent company is Carnival Corp. Their hearing will be held in Grosseto on July 20.
Schettino's trial is likely to be an extremely long, drawn-out process, with as many as 1,000 witnesses -- many survivors of the disaster -- called to testify.
The ship is still on its side off the island of Giglio, some 18 months after it capsized on January 13, 2012, killing 32 people. Latest reports say it will be floated off at some point in the next three months.
--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor