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Court grants new examination of Costa Concordia shipwreck

Petition by consumer group and Schettino defence accepted

10 December, 15:29
Court grants new examination of Costa Concordia shipwreck (ANSA) - Grosseto, December 10 - A panel of judges in Tuscany granted requests for a new forensic examination of the deadly Costa Concordia wreck, still located where the giant cruiser smashed into a rock formation on Giglio Island off the Tuscan coast on January 13, 2012, in Italy's worst maritime disaster since World War II.

The consumer group Codacons and the criminal defence for ex-captain Francesco Schettino had petitioned for the new survey. The magistrates ruled that new evidence collection was warranted because significant areas of the ship have been made accessible by a September parbuckling operation that turned the lurching, semi-submerged wreck upright.

The Grosseto court will hold a hearing on January 9, 2014 to determine when the wreck will be boarded given weather conditions at that time.

Among equipment to be examined are the emergency generator, elevator functions, the state of the 'zero bridge', and control room computer equipment, said Codacons in a statement.

Codacons in October filed charges in the Grosseto court that maintenance records for the emergency generator had been tampered with.

"Malfunctioning of the emergency generator (was) a possible cause or secondary cause of the tragic epilogue of the shipwreck in terms of human lives, and is one of the main aspects that Codacons has been fighting from the beginning of the trial," Codacons said in October.

The disaster caused the loss of 32 lives, hundreds of injuries and the evacuation of thousands.

Codacons noted that the new examination will also seek to create "an accurate and scientific reconstruction of the helmsman's error".

The former captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, Francesco Schettino, in court testimony blamed the ship's helmsman for causing the wreck by failing properly to obey an order.

Schettino is on trial for multiple manslaughter and dereliction of duty, and could face 20 years in prison if he is found guilty.

A defense lawyer for Schettino, Francesco Pepe, has called for a new appraisal of the wreck to assess the functioning of "emergency generators, the watertight doors and the operation of the lifeboat booms".

Costa Cruises lawyer Marco De Luca denied that the defence's request was necessary.