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Costa Concordia trial judges agree to examination of wrecked ship

By Barbie Nadeau, for CNN
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Wed September 25, 2013
  • Judges agree to a request for a new examination of the Costa Concordia
  • The decision could mean a delay of months in the legal process
  • Capt. Francesco Schettino asked for permission to tour the ship's bridge and engine room
  • Schettino's lawyers want to show that he was not solely responsible for the disaster

Rome (CNN) -- Judges in the trial of the captain of the wrecked cruise liner Costa Concordia agreed Wednesday to his request for a new examination of the ship, Costa Cruises spokesman Davide Barbano told CNN from inside the court.

Lawyers for Capt. Francesco Schettino had asked the panel of three judges on Monday for permission to tour the ship's bridge and engine room as part of a defense strategy he says will prove Schettino was not the only person responsible for the disaster.

The move could delay the legal process for months.

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Schettino's defense is trying to prove that the ship's watertight doors did not function properly, and that is the reason the ship sank, leading to the loss of 32 lives during the evacuation.

The refloated wreck of the Costa Concordia is towed to the Italian port of Genoa on Sunday, July 27, to be scrapped, ending the ship's final journey two and a half years after it capsized at a cost of 32 lives. The refloated wreck of the Costa Concordia is towed to the Italian port of Genoa on Sunday, July 27, to be scrapped, ending the ship's final journey two and a half years after it capsized at a cost of 32 lives.
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A special team of divers will have to examine parts of the ship which are still under water, including the engine room and watertight doors.

READ: Concordia righted

The liner, which crashed on the rocks off Giglio Island in January 2012, was rotated back to vertical last week after well over a year resting on its side. The unprecedented maneuver, called parbuckling, exposed a twisted mass of metal dotted with mattresses, passenger luggage and deck chairs on the ship's previously submerged starboard side.

Now that the Concordia is upright, there can be further investigation of the captain's alleged mishandling of the ship.

Defense lawyers for Schettino agreed with lawyers representing more than 200 civil parties against the captain, including Giglio Island and several passenger and environmental advocacy groups, in asking for a new examination of the ship.

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Prosecutors are expected to argue that Schettino's decision to take the cruise liner off course is what caused the loss of life, not secondary mistakes or malfunctions.

Schettino also argued Monday that Indonesian helmsman Jacob Rusli Bin's failure to understand his command to turn away from the rocks led to the crash.

Rusli Bin and four others were convicted in a plea deal in July for their role in the disaster. A Florence court is considering the validity of those plea bargain agreements.

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