Francesco Schettino, the disgraced captain of the Costa Concordia cruise liner, will go back on board the shipwreck on Thursday as part of the trial against him.
A court in the city of Grosseto accepted a request from Schettino’s lawyers who demanded that the captain attend an inspection of the emergency generator on the 11th deck of the liner.
The unit allegedly did not work on the night of Jan. 13, 2012, when the Concordia, which was carrying 4,229 people from 70 countries, tumbled onto its side claiming 32 lives.
The disaster occurred as the captain allegedly drove the 114,000-ton ship on an unauthorized route too close to shore, ripping a huge gash in the hull.
Schettino faces 20 years in prison if convicted of charges including manslaughter and abandoning ship.
The captain was found ashore when hundreds of people were still aboard the stricken liner. Dubbed “Captain Coward” by the international media, Schettino maintains he did not abandon ship but had simply “fallen into” the lifeboat on the badly listing ship.
He claims there was no way of getting back on board, thus he could not obey the order of an exasperated coastguard official who uttered the famous “Get back on board, for f—’s sake.”
Two years later, the captain will get back on board the devastated ship and walk on the rusty corridors leading to the emergency power unit.
He will be allowed to attend the survey, but not ask questions.
“We are very happy for the court’s decision. Schettino will be able to clarify many details related to the emergency equipment and the last dramatic moments aboard,” the captain’s lawyer, Domenico Pepe, told reporters.
The aim is to determine whether other factors contributed to the disaster. To investigate, last month court-appointed technicians examined the ship’s bridge and elevators.
That inspection was preceded by “a very serious incident,” said chief prosecutor Francesco Verusio. He has opened a separate investigation into two employees of the Concordia’s operator, Costa Crociere.
Capt. Camillo Casella and Costa Concordia’s legal guardian, Franco Porcellacchia, the engineer who led the parbuckling operation to upright the ship last September, are now under investigation for allegedly breaking seals and altering the scene on the wrecked liner during an unauthorized visit made just a day ahead of the court-ordered probe.
“The investigation will come to nothing,” said Costa lawyer Marco De Luca.
He maintains the unauthorized visit was made to secure the stricken liner ahead of the court-ordered survey.
Photo: The Costa Concordia is brought upright. Credit: Rossella Lorenzi