AP Photo/Andrew Medichini
Captain Francesco Schettino looks down from the upper deck of the wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, just off the coast of the Giglio island, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014. The captain of the Costa Concordia has been permitted to go aboard the shipwreck for the first time since it capsized two years ago as part of a new court-ordered search. Consumer groups and lawyers for Capt. Francesco Schettino asked the court in Grosseto to authorize the searches to determine if any factors beyond human error contributed to the disaster. After searching the bridge and elevators last month, experts will examine the emergency generators Thursday. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini) Andrew Medichini/Associated Press
The former captain of the capsized Costa Concordia has returned to the ship for the first time since the tragedy occurred two years ago as part of a new court-ordered search.
Francesco Schettino boarded the vessel Thursday after an Italian court agreed to let him go aboard the vessel, which was righted last September off the Tuscan island of Giglio.
Consumer groups and lawyers for Schettino had asked the court in Grosseto to authorize the searches to determine if any factors beyond human error contributed to the disaster. After searching the bridge and elevators last month, experts were to examine the emergency generators on Thursday.
The court agreed Tuesday to let Schettino go aboard.
Judge Giovanni Puliatti stressed that Schettino would be there to help, not ask questions, adding he is "defendant, not a consultant.”
Schettino was taken out to the wreck on a small boat and was then seen standing on the ship. An Italian reporter asked him why he was returning and Schettino said he was there to "dignify the living and honour the dead."
The Costa Concordia slammed into a reef off Giglio on Jan. 13, 2012 and capsized. The impact tore a 70-metre gash in the hull, allowing water to come flooding into the listing liner, and 32 people who were aboard died.
Schettino is on trial for manslaughter and other charges, including leaving the ship before all passengers could leave and delaying the evacuation order until it was too late to lower many of the lifeboats from the vessel.
Shettino's lawyers have blamed other crew members for not following orders and said the ship itself malfunctioned.