Italian prosecutors investigate Concordia owner over shipwreck

ROME Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:33pm EST

Relatives of victims stand on a ferry in front of the capsized cruise liner Costa Concordia outside Giglio harbour January 13, 2013. REUTERS/Tony Gentile (ITALY - Tags: DISASTER MARITIME ANNIVERSARY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Relatives of victims stand on a ferry in front of the capsized cruise liner Costa Concordia outside Giglio harbour January 13, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Tony Gentile (ITALY - Tags: DISASTER MARITIME ANNIVERSARY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

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ROME (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 defense.

The 114,500 tonne luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia capsized and sank on January 13, 2012 after approaching the Tuscan island of Giglio to perform a maneuver 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.

(Reporting By Catherine Hornby; Editing by Grant McCool)

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