Costa Concordia pre-trial hearing begins

Posted at 6:22 PM, Mar 03, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-03 18:22:16-05

GROSSETO, Italy (CBS News) - A pre-trial hearing on the Costa Concordia shipwreck brought lots of lawyers for angry passengers and victims’ families to a makeshift courtroom in Grosseto, Italy.

The legal teams for Costa Concordia passengers and victim's families arrived at the first hearing to determine what happened aboard the cruise ship.

In January, the luxury liner hit a reef and capsized off the coast of Giglio island.  Twenty-five bodies were pulled from the sea, and seven people are still missing.

At the hearing, the judge assigned four experts to analyze the ship’s data recorder, and gave them until July to prepare their report.

Prosecutors will then decide whether there’s enough evidence to try Captain Francesco Schettino . He's accused of veering too close to the island, causing the wreck and then abandoning ship.

Schettino’s lawyer says his client did not abandon ship voluntarily. The Captain told investigators he fell into a lifeboat when the Costa Concordia capsized.

Neither Schettino nor eight others under investigation attended the hearing.

A theater in the center of Grosseto has been turned into a temporary courtroom.  Over 200 people were inside, mostly lawyers and experts, and some passengers from the Costa Concordia.

One woman, whose daughter is among the missing, said she does not have any confidence in the Italian justice system.

Costa Cruises came under the spotlight again when another one of its ships, the Costa Allegra, had to be towed to shore after a fire broke out onboard.

Passengers spent three days without electricity and running water.

Prosecutors in this case will rely heavily on what the experts have to say about how fast the Concordia was going when it slammed into a reef, its exact route and what the commands that were given on board.