Packed court as shipwreck captain hears evidence

By Frances D'emilio

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Oct. 15 2012 6:55 a.m. MDT

Costa Crociere has denied that it was negligent and has distanced itself from Schettino, firing him in July although he is fighting to get his job back.

Passengers have described a delayed evacuation, with many of the lifeboats stuck and unable to be lowered because the boat was listing too far to one side. Some of the 4,200 people aboard jumped into the Mediterranean and swam to Giglio, while others had to be plucked from the ship by rescue helicopters hours after the collision.

Schettino has insisted that by guiding the stricken ship into shallower waters near Giglio's port instead of immediately ordering an evacuation he potentially saved lives. He has claimed that another official, not he, was at the helm when the ship struck.

The timeline in the experts' report, however, makes clear that he had assumed command six minutes before the ship struck the reef.

An American lawyer representing more than 150 people in U.S.-based lawsuits against Carnival Corp. said he came from Mississippi to closely follow evidence that could be useful in his cases. Aside from financial compensation for his clients, John Arthur Eaves Jr. said he is pushing for improved standards in the cruise industry.

"There is a consistent pattern of lack of discipline ... and communication problems," he told reporters. "This accident will happen again."

"The sooner we can resolve it, the sooner these victims can get back to rebuilding their lives," Eaves added.

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