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Lawyers Representing Costa Concordia Victims Expect Answers As Captain Faces Court Hearing

Travel Experts At Irwin Mitchell Representing British Passengers Say Victims Want To Know Who is Responsible


Specialist travel Lawyers representing British victims of the Costa Concordia cruise tragedy expect that a criminal court hearing starting in Italy today (15 October 2012) will explain to the survivors exactly how the disaster occurred and who is likely to face criminal liability.

Irwin Mitchell is representing dozens of passengers and crew of the cruise ship which capsized after hitting a rock on 13 January this year with the loss of 32 lives.

A court hearing, beginning in Grosseto, Italy today, is expected to last for three days. During the hearing the Court will hear evidence from experts who have prepared a lengthy 260 page report into the disaster. The Court is expected to confirm whether the ship’s Captain Francesco Schettino together with five other officers from the ship and a number of officials from the Costa Cruise line will be sent for a full trial.

Expert lawyers at the firm say a number of survivors of the ordeal who they represent have suffered physical injuries, while many appear to be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with symptoms including flashbacks and nightmares.

The passengers are demanding to know how such a large, modern cruise ship could hit rocks so close to the shore of Giglio and with over 4,000 people onboard.

Charanjit Phander, 52, and his wife Mohan, 48, were having dinner onboard the ship when they heard a bang and the lights went out.

Charanjit, who owns a carpet business, said: “It was just so horrible and no one really knew what was happening. There seemed to be a long wait from the initial problems to finally being told to get lifejackets on when people began shouting ‘abandon ship’. It was so scary.

“We were just relieved when we got onto the lifeboat but as we were getting closer to safety you could see others stuck on the cruise ship which was very visibly sinking. I could see people hanging on to the top side of the boat and hear them screaming with fear.”

The couple, from Gerrards Cross Buckinghamshire, who have three children, instructed the travel law team at Irwin Mitchell to take legal action in a bid to find out why the catastrophe happened.

Charanjit added: “We are looking forward to receiving some answers as to why the accident happened and hope that the hearing today will help us get some closure so that we can begin to move on with our lives.”

Clive Garner, a leading travel law specialist at Irwin Mitchell representing the group, said: “The passengers who survived the Costa Concordia disaster endured a horrendous ordeal which will live with them forever.

“There are many theories about what happened and many outstanding questions. We expect today’s Court hearing will start the process of revealing exactly what happened and who should take responsibility for this tragedy.

“The actions of Captain Schettino will of course be fully analysed but we also expect a full and careful review of all the steps taken by other Officers of the ship as well as officials within the Costa cruise line.

“The experts who will be presenting their findings to the court today have had access to all available evidence from the ship including all the data recorders, voice recordings, the ships log, email and other records . Their conclusions will help the Italian court reach its decision in relation to criminal charges and assist the victims who so want to find out who is responsible for this tragedy and see that justice is done.”