THE captain of the wrecked Costa Concordia, now on trial over the deadly disaster, blamed his helmsman for botching a last-minute corrective manoeuvre that he contends could have prevented the massive cruise ship's collision with a reef along the Italian coast.
Captain Francesco Schettino is charged with manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and abandoning ship before the luxury cruise liner's 4,200 passengers and crew could be evacuated on January 13, 2012. Thirty-two people died.
Mr Schettino insists he is being made a scapegoat and that errors by other Costa Crociere SpA crew and mechanical problems exacerbated the tragedy that occurred near the Tuscan island of Giglio.
The Concordia crashed into a reef, took on water and capsized when Mr Schettino steered it dangerously close to Giglio. It was an off-route manoeuvre that the captain is alleged to have taken in part because he wanted to impress his passengers with a close-up view of the island's twinkling lights.
Investigators have said language problems between the Italian captain and the Indonesian-born helmsman may have played a role in the botched manoeuvre. A maritime expert, however, told the court that although the helmsman was slow to react, the crash would have happened anyway.
The helmsman, Jacob Rusli Bin, is one of five employees who were granted plea bargains in return for mild sentences in a separate proceeding.
The trial continues.