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Italy cruise captain gets house arrest

18 January 2012, 09:54

Rome - The captain of a luxury liner which ran aground off the coast of Italy will be released from prison but put under house arrest, his defence lawyer told journalists on Tuesday.

Judge Valeria Montesarchio ruled that Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino should be placed under house arrest, lawyer Bruno Leporatti said.

Schettino is awaiting trial on accusations of multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship while passengers were still on board.

He was arrested on Saturday after chief prosecutor Francesco Verusio said he was an escape risk.

Verusio told journalists that Schettino risked 15 years in prison if found guilty.

The captain told interrogators he was at the helm of the ship when disaster struck but did not abandon ship. He said he fell into the sea and could not get back on board the tilting vessel, the Corriere della sera newspaper said.

His lawyer backed the claim, telling journalists: "The ship at that moment was tilted over by 90°."

"You try and get back onto a boat that is at a 90°angle without a helicopter," Leporatti said.

The vast Costa Concordia cruise ship carrying over 3 000 passengers sank after hitting a rock and turning over on its side. At least 11 people have died and many are still missing.


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