Costa Concordia

Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino faces 19 charges

A group of 19 German tourists has filed criminal charges against Francesco Schettino, captain of the stricken Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia, a prosecutor in Germany told AFP Wednesday.

"Charges have been filed and they must now be examined," said Christian Kuhnert, a prosecutor in Bochum, western Germany.

He explained that charges could be pressed under German law even though the disaster took place abroad.

A lawyer for the group, Hans Reinhardt, was quoted as saying his clients were filing charges "on suspicion of negligent bodily harm, abandonment, endangering shipping and failure to offer assistance to persons in danger."

"Captain Schettino left helpless people in the lurch and put their lives in danger," mass circulation daily Bild quoted the lawyer as saying.

Reinhardt was not immediately available for comment.

The 114,500-tonne Costa Concordia with more than 4,200 people aboard ran aground on rocks off Giglio Island and lurched on to its side as passengers were settling down to dinner shortly after the start of a Mediterranean cruise.

A total of 32 people are feared to have died in the January 13 disaster.

Schettino is under house arrest, accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship along with first officer Ciro Ambrosio.

In Italy, consumer rights' association Codacons said 70 passengers have joined a class action suit against the shipowner Costa Crociere.

And in France, survivors are also expected to file suits against the cruise operator.

(Published by Vancouver Sun - February 1, 2012)


Read more - Top stories

2/2/12 - Too early for Costa Concordia compensation: lawyer - click here.

2/2/12 - Costa Concordia passengers sue cruise company for $460m - click here.


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