Schettino himself 'victim' of accident, says defense

Former Costa captain should not be criminalized

Schettino himself 'victim' of accident, says defense

Grosseto, April 15 - The captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship that hit a rock formation off the Tuscan coast January 2012, killing 32, is himself the victim of a work accident and has been made a "scapegoat", defense lawyers said on Monday. "(Francesco) Schettino made the mistake of relying too much on the management of Costa Cruises and it is ever more apparent that he suffered a work accident that cannot be criminalized," defense attorney Francesco Pepe told the court during preliminary hearings for criminal proceedings. "It is absurd to think that Costa (Cruises) are considering civil action, especially now that their responsibility in the matter has emerged," Pepe said. William Gossard from the United States National Transportation Safety Board who testified for the defense on Monday told the court he thought that Schettino had actually avoided a "Titanic-like tragedy". "Mostly, the use of the 'salute' (the practice by cruise ships of driving close to shore to greet onlookers) needs to be questioned. There is a lack of clear rules prohibiting it. The responsibility lies with those who allow it," Gossard said. Grossetto prosecutors are seeking the indictment of Schettino and five others for the cruise-liner accident. Schettino is suspected of multiple manslaughter and abandonment of his post before the evacuation of all 4,200 passengers and crew. The disaster occurred after an allegedly rash manoeuvre by Schettino resulted in the Concordia hitting a rock reef as the ship sailed close to Giglio Island to 'salute' local people. According to Italian media sources, a decision on his indictment is expected later Monday.

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