Italian prosecutors investigate Concordia owner over shipwreck

ROME Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:28pm EST

ROME Jan 24 (Reuters) - Italian prosecutors investigating last year's Costa Concordia shipwreck in which 32 people died are looking into the vessel owner's potential responsibility as an employer, the company said on Thursday.

Costa Cruises, a unit of Carnival Corp said in a statement that it had been told of a probe into possible violations of Italian law governing the responsibility of companies for crimes committed by employees.

Prosecutors are seeking a trial of the ship's captain and seven other people, a magistrate said in December. A judge will decide if there is enough evidence for trial.

The company statement said, "Costa Cruises is confident that it will be able to demonstrate full compliance with the law."

It has 20 days to present evidence in its defence.

The 114,500 tonne luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia capsized and sank on Jan. 13, 2012 after approaching the Tuscan island of Giglio to perform a manoeuvre close to the shore known as a "salute". It struck a rock, tearing a gash in its hull and soon capsized.

Captain Francesco Schettino has been accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship, which was carrying more than 4,000 passengers and crew. He argues that he managed to prevent a worse disaster by steering the vessel into shallow waters after the impact to help the rescue operation.

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