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Concordia ship owner seeks victim status

GROSSETO, Italy -- The owner of the shipwrecked Costa Concordia asked a court on Monday to consider it a victim of the disaster, saying it too wants to seek damages for the 2012 grounding off Tuscany that killed 32 people.

Costa Crociere SpA, a unit of Miami-based Carnival Corp., made the request as the court here opened a preliminary, closed-door hearing into the grounding and whether to issue indictments against the captain and crew. In Italy, civil cases are heard alongside criminal ones.

In the criminal part of the case, prosecutors want Capt. Francesco Schettino to stand trial for alleged manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship before all the 4,200 passengers and crew had been evacuated. They want four other crew members and a Costa manager on land to face charges of botching the emergency.

A decision on the indictment wasn't expected Monday, lawyers said.

Schettino ordered the ship taken off course Jan. 13, 2012, to bring it closer to the island of Giglio as a favor to friends. But the ship rammed into a reef off the island, leaving a 230-foot gash in the hull and causing the liner to take on water and capsize. Schettino has defended his actions that night, saying he saved lives by bringing the hobbled ship closer to port and that the reef wasn't on his nautical charts. -- AP

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