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Italian judge orders trial for Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino

Schettino will face trial over the cruise ship accident that killed 32 people last year when it struck a reef near the island of Giglio.

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The Costa Concordia cruise ship, which ran aground on January 13, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy. (Laura Lezza/AFP/Getty Images)

An Italian judge has ordered a trial for the cruise ship captain accused of manslaughter in the accident in which the giant Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground off the coast of Tuscany last year, killing 32 people.

Francesco Schettino faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship while many of the 4,200 passengers and crew were still aboard.

The Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground when it came too close to shore in January 2012 off the tiny island of Giglio. A rock tore a gash in the giant ship and caused it to tip into the sea.

A lawyer for Schettino said at a preliminary hearing last month that his client did not cause the crash or abandon ship. "This was an accident at work. You cannot criminalize a man because he had an accident while working," Francesco Pepe told reporters.

Schettino became the butt of jokes after the deadly accident over reports that he intentionally maneuvered the ship too close to shore in an attempt to "salute" Giglio island.

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The trial is expected to begin on July 9 in the Tuscan town of Grosseto. Schettino will be the only defendant in court.

Five other defendants successfully sought plea bargains in their cases and are now being handled separately.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/italy/130522/italian-judge-orders-trial-costa-concordia-captain-frances