Strike stalls Costa Concordia captain’s trial

The trial of Francesco Schettino, captain of the ill-fated Costa Concordia cruise ship, was adjourned to July 17th shortly after opening in the Italian city of Grosseto on Tuesday because of a national lawyers' strike.

Strike stalls Costa Concordia captain's trial
Captain Francesco Schettino is charged with multiple manslaughter. Photo: Costa Concordia/AFP

Schettino is charged with multiple manslaughter over the 32 people who lost their lives and is accused of abandoning the ship while terrified passengers were still inside in the January 13th, 2012, disaster.

The strike has also delayed a hearing on plea bargains requested by four Costa Concordia crew members and one manager from the ship's operator, which was due to take place on Monday. 

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Costa Concordia wreck to be raised in September

The wreck of the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship which crashed into the Tuscan island of Giglio in January 2012 killing 32, will finally be raised up next month, the salvage coordinator said on Friday.

Costa Concordia wreck to be raised in September
32 people died in the Costa Concordia disaster in January 2012. Photo: AFP

The wreck of the cruise liner currently lies keeled over off the Tuscan island of Giglio over a year after it crashed with 4,229 people from 70 countries on board, claiming 32 lives.

"If things go as we are expecting. I think September will be the month of the rotation," prefect Franco Gabrielli told Italian news channel SkyTG24, declining to give a precise date.

The raising of the Concordia had been programmed for September 2012 but was then delayed to May 2013 and then put off again because of technical difficulties.

The news comes on the day the Italian environmental organization Legambiente staged a protest in front of the wreck. Holding 12-metre-long banners reading "581 days and the Concordia is still here", protesters called for the removal of the wreck which the group described as an environmental and economic disaster.   

"The inhabitants and everyone who loves the island of Giglio are waiting for concrete acts to stop this tragedy from also becoming an environmental and economic disaster," Legambiente's National President Vittorio Cogliati Dezza told the television channel TG1. 

The planned salvage operation will be the biggest ever attempted for a passenger ship.

The plan is initially to rotate the 114,500-ton vessel, then attach flotation tanks to the side that is currently under water like the ones already welded to its exposed side.

The tanks will then be emptied of water to act as flotation devices before the ship is towed away to be scrapped in a port that is yet to be determined.

Salvage operators say the rotation has to occur in September at the latest because otherwise there would be a risk of bad weather later in the year.

Giglio mayor Sergio Ortelli said the operation was in its "final phase", adding that he was confident the operation the island return to "calm and normality".

Ortelli said tourist numbers on the island were down 15 percent this season compared to before the crash but said this was an improvement from last summer when arrivals were down 30 percent.