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Italy court hearings set scene for Concordia shipwreck trial

Published on Oct 20, 2012 6:58 AM

GROSSETO, Italy (AFP) - A series of pre-trial hearings into the Costa Concordia shipwreck with captain Francesco Schettino wrapped up on Friday, paving the way for a trial on a tragedy in which 32 people died.

The hearing brought to an end a week of heated debates between lawyers and technical experts on the details of what happened that night of January 13 when the luxury liner smashed into an offshore reef near the shores of Tuscany.

The Tuscan town of Grosseto had been overrun all week with journalists who hounded Schettino, taunting him and snapping paparazzi photographs of the captain with his slicked-back hair, flashy suits and trademark sunglasses.

"Captain Coward", as he became known after he abandoned the ship before it was evacuated, was clearly frustrated by how the hearings were going and was reportedly told by his lawyer to calm down or he would have to leave the court.

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