Court: Italy cruise ship captain must stay under house arrest

The cruise liner Costa Concordia, seen on January 25, hit rocks and sank off the coast of Italy's Giglio Island.

Story highlights

  • Capt. Francesco Schettino doesn't have to be jailed, Italy's highest court rules
  • He is facing investigation over possible criminal charges including manslaughter
  • Schettino has been under house arrest since January
  • At least 30 people died when the Costa Concordia struck rocks and turned on its side

Italy's highest court ruled Tuesday that the captain of the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship must remain under house arrest while he is investigated for possible criminal charges.

Prosecutors wanted Capt. Francesco Schettino to be held behind bars while the investigation continues, but his lawyers had argued he should be given his freedom.

At least 30 people died when the giant cruise liner struck rocks and turned on its side off the Italian island of Giglio on January 13.

Italy's Supreme Court, known as the Court of Cassation, met Tuesday morning in Rome to consider Schettino's house arrest at a hearing closed to the media. The five-judge panel's ruling was delivered Tuesday evening.

Schettino's lawyer, Bruno Leporatti, said in a statement ahead of the ruling that his client had "full trust and respect in the judges and that he awaits the Supreme Court's decision with serenity."

Costa Concordia survivors speak out

    Just Watched

    Costa Concordia survivors speak out

Costa Concordia survivors speak out 01:15
Couple recalls cruise ship escape

    Just Watched

    Couple recalls cruise ship escape

Couple recalls cruise ship escape 03:17
Concordia captain admits 'mistake'

    Just Watched

    Concordia captain admits 'mistake'

Concordia captain admits 'mistake' 01:09

The court was also expected to rule on the admissibility of the captain's phone intercepts at the police station following his detention right after the shipwreck.

Schettino faces allegations of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, abandoning ship, failing to report an accident to the coast guard and destroying a natural habitat, a prosecutor said last month. Giglio is a protected park.

Schettino's first officer, Ciro Ambrosio, and six other officers both on the ship and from the firm Costa in Genova are under investigation over allegations including manslaughter, shipwreck and failure to report the accident, the prosecutor said.

No one has yet been charged in connection with the incident.

Italy's civil protection agency said Tuesday that 30 bodies had been recovered from the wreck, of which 25 have been identified and five are still in process of identification. Two people remain missing.

Schettino has previously said managers of the Costa cruise line instructed him to sail close to the island and has denied allegations that he was sailing too fast. He has said the rock the ship struck was not indicated on his charts of the area.

He has been under house arrest at his home in the town of Meta di Sorrento since January.

      CNN recommends

    • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

      As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
    • Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
    • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

      Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
    • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

      It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.