The captain of the Costa Concordia, which capsized two years ago, killing 32 people and causing a salvage headache off the coast of Italy, visited the wreckage for the first time since the crash. Francesco Schettino, who has denied any wrongdoing, went onboard as part of trial proceedings, accompanied by a court-appointed group of experts. He was present as a defendant.
Investigators were there inspecting the ships emergency generators, looking to see if anything other than human error could have caused the crash.
Among Schettino’s charges are manslaughter allegations and claims the he both caused the wreck, and abandoning ship before all of the 4,229 passengers were evacuated. One phone call made during the incident recorded a coast guard official shouting at Schettino to get back on board. Witnesses claim the captain boarded a lifeboat voluntarily; he claims that the ship’s instability caused him to fall into a lifeboat.
Last July, five other crew members entered plea bargains and were convicted of manslaughter by an Italian court. Schettino’s request for a plea bargain was rejected by the prosecution.
The capsized ship, which crashed in January 2012, laid on its side on a reef until last September, when a complex parbuckling maneuver brought it upright.