GROSSETO, Italy (AP) — An Italian court on Saturday postponed until Oct. 15 a preliminary hearing seeking to determine charges against those responsible for the Costa Concordia shipwreck that killed 32 crew and passengers.
The court decided to delay the hearing, which will decide whether to indict Concordia's captain and others, in order to examine an expert assessment of audio evidence from the black box data recorder.
Capt. Francesco Schettino's lawyer told reporters outside the courthouse that the audio evidence from the black box confirms his client's version of events.
"Schettino has felt relieved since he had the chance to tell his version of the facts to the judge, but he is also relieved because the audio evidence from the black box confirm his version," Bruno Leporatti said.
Schettino said recently in a TV interview that he was distracted by a telephone call just before the Jan. 13 accident, and that he believed his decision to move the ship closer to shore to shallow waters instead of immediately ordering an evacuation potentially saved lives. Prosecutors allege he sailed too close to an island in a publicity stunt, ramming it into a reef.
Passengers described a confused and delayed evacuation, with many of the life boats unable to be lowered after the ship listed to one side. Some of the 4,200 aboard jumped into the Mediterranean and swam to the island, while others had to be plucked from the vessel by rescue helicopters hours after the collision.