GROSSETO, Italy -- The first hearing of the criminal investigation into the Costa Concordia's shipwreck was held in a theater Saturday instead of a courthouse because of intense public interest, with angry survivors seeking compensation, justice and the truth.
The judge assigned four experts to analyze the cruise ship's data recorder and ordered them to report their findings in July, confirming predictions by prosecutor Francesco Verusio that examination of the data, as well as of conversations involving officers on the ship's bridge, could take months.
Prosecutors must decide whether to seek a trial against the captain, other top officers and officials of Italian cruise company Costa Crociere SpA, which is owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp. Crucial to their decision could be what the experts determine are such details as the Concordia's velocity when it slammed into a reef the night of Jan. 13 off Giglio Island, its exact route and what commands were given by whom and when.
The shipwreck killed 25 people, and seven others are missing and presumed dead. Captain Francesco Schettino is accused of abandoning ship while many of the 4,200 passengers and crew were still aboard during a confused evacuation.
Prosecutors say the captain steered the ship too close to the island to show off the vessel to islanders in a publicity stunt.