FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters) - An Italian court ruled Tuesday that Francesco Schettino, the captain of the cruise liner that ran aground and capsized off the island of Giglio, killing at least 17 people, must remain under house arrest.
Schettino was arrested the day after the January 13 disaster, accused of manslaughter and abandoning the 114,000-tonne Costa Concordia before all the 4,200 passengers and crew were evacuated.
He admitted to prosecutors that he sailed too close to the island and was released from prison and placed under house arrest on January 17.
In confirming that he must remain under house arrest, the Florence court rejected the pleas of both the prosecutors, who argued that he should return to prison, and Schettino's lawyer, who had requested that he be completely set free.
Last week authorities called off the search for bodies on the ship, after recovering 17 corpses. Fifteen people are still unaccounted for.
The hulk of the Costa Concordia is still lying on its side on a rocky ledge less than 100 meters from the Giglio shoreline and salvage crews are pumping the 2,300 tonnes of fuel from the vessel to try to avoid an environmental disaster.
Tuesday the head of Italy's civil protection authority said the ship would not be removed for at least 7-10 months.
(Reporting by Silvia Ognibene, writing by Gavin Jones)