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Italy cruise captain to return to site of disaster


The captain of the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship Francesco Schettino will return to the site of the disaster for the first time on Thursday as part of the trial against him.

The judge at the trial on Tuesday accepted a request from Schettino's defence lawyers that he be allowed to take part in a visit to Giglio Island by a group of experts compiling a report for the court, Italian media reported.

Schettino and the experts will board the giant luxury liner, which crashed into the island off the Tuscan coastline in January 2012 with 4,229 people from 70 countries on board in a tragedy that claimed 32 lives.

The captain has been charged with manslaughter and abandoning the ship before all the passengers had been evacuated -- an accusation that earned him the tabloid monikers "Captain Coward" and "Italy's most hated man".

The 290-metre (951-foot) long ship was dragged upright last year in the biggest salvage operation of a passenger ship ever attempted and it is due to be refloated and towed away for scrapping later this year.