Schettino avoids press, arrives for preliminary hearings

Defense for ex-captain asking to submit new evidence

Schettino avoids press, arrives for preliminary hearings

Grosetto, May 22 - The ex-captain of the cruise ship that crashed off the coast of Tuscany last year arrived Wednesday morning for preliminary hearings being held in a theater in the Tuscan city of Grosetto, entering through the front door and tricking journalists who waited instead at the back entrance where he had previously entered for past hearings. The hearings that re-adjourned Wednesday are expected to determine whether Francesco Schettino, who is on trial for dereliction of duty and manslaughter, will be given a fast-track trial and if new evidence will be accepted from the defense. Dubbed "Captain Coward" by the media for allegedly abandoning ship without overseeing the evacuation, Schettino was manning the Costa Concordia when it hit a rock in January last year before partially capsizing off the island of Giglio, killing 32 people. Prosecutors are reportedly seeking a sentence of up to 20 years in prison for Schettino.

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