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The captain of the Costa Concordia offered his condolences to the families of those who died in the disaster but continued to protest his innocence on the second anniversary of the ship’s sinking yesterday.
In a written statement, Capt Francesco Schettino said the accident had left “indelible heartache”, and offered his “deepest condolences” to the 4,200 passengers and crew who were on board the cruise liner when it foundered on the night of Jan 13 2012.
Survivors commemorated the anniversary with a candlelit march on Giglio island and a moment of silence in the courtroom where the captain is on trial.
Relations of the 32 dead threw a wreath into the sea and attended a Mass in the island’s church, where hundreds of survivors were taken on the night the Concordia hit a reef and capsized.
Capt Schettino attempted to divert responsibility for the accident to the officers under his command in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro.
He criticised his subordinates for not informing him that the 950ft ship was heading dangerously close to the shore of Giglio, saying: “My only regret is having had officers who were not up to scratch.
“Whether through fear or out of excessive respect for me, I don’t know, but not one of the officers warned me of what was really happening.”
He said it was unfair that he alone was on trial for the disaster. “The captain only steers the ship out of a port or into it,” he said. “During the rest of the navigation, it’s the officers who are working.”
He did not feel as though he was “a scapegoat” because he was convinced that “the truth will come out in the end”.
Capt Schettino is on trial for abandoning ship, manslaughter and causing a maritime disaster. His trial was supposed to have resumed yesterday, but the hearing had to be cancelled because of a lawyers’ strike. The trial was adjourned to Jan 27.