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Costa Concordia: Schettino Blames Helmsman
The captain of the Costa Concordia, which hit rocks and capsized off an Italian island, killing 32 people, has blamed his helmsman for the disaster.
Speaking at his trial for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship, Francesco Schettino said he ordered Jacob Rusli Bin to steer left as the cruise liner sailed perilously close to Giglio.
He claimed the crewman reacted slowly and failed to complete the manoeuvre in time.
Schettino asked for permission to speak in court while experts discussed the extent to which the helmsman may have been responsible.
The Italian told the court that "if it weren't for the delay and error ... the ship would have stopped" before slamming into the reef, which carved a 70m (230ft) hole in one side of its hull.
His claim was disputed by Giuseppe Cavo Dragone, the chairman of the expert witness panel, who said: "The ship would have hit the rocks in any case."
Investigators believe language problems between the captain and his Indonesian colleague may have contributed to the crash.
The helmsman was sentenced to one year and eight months in prison in July after pleading guilty to manslaughter and causing the shipwreck.
However, a law shaving three years off jail terms to ease prison overcrowding means he is unlikely to serve any time behind bars.
Schettino, who faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, says the reef the Costa Concordia struck was not on his charts and that he was thrown overboard by the angle of the leaning ship.
He claims he is being made a scapegoat and that errors by other personnel caused the tragedy.
His lawyers also want to examine the wreck for evidence of possible technical faults with the emergency generators and pumps that may have contributed to the disaster in January 2012.
The 114,000-ton ship was hauled upright from its partially submerged position earlier this month.
More than 1,000 concrete stacks and six underwater platforms will be used to keep the vessel stable until it is towed to a port to be broken up next spring.