Costa Concordia captain apologizes to survivors in court (VIDEO)


The Italian captain of the stricken cruise ship Costa Concordia, Francesco Schettino (C), is escorted by police after being questioned by prosecutors in the Grosseto court on January 17, 2012.


Andreas Solaro

The captain who's blamed for the Costa Concordia disaster at sea earlier this year apologized and shook hands with survivors in court Monday.

Francesco Schettino rose to infamy when his cruise liner plowed into rocks off the Tuscan coast in January, killing 32 people, after he took it off course as a stunt, according to The Associated Press.

More from GlobalPost: Costa Concordia captain claims he was unfairly dismissed

He's since apologized on Italian TV but also claims he's a victim and is suing his former employees for what he calls wrongful dismissal.

More than 1,000 survivors, victims' relatives and their lawyers attended Monday's court hearing, which is meant to determine whether the case should go a full trial, Reuters reported.

Luciano Castro, an Italian survivor who attended the hearing, told Reuters that Schettino appeared "embarrassed" when they spoke briefly.

More from GlobalPost: Francesco Schettino, Costa Concordia captain, apologizes for 'banal accident'

"The only thing he said was when I told him that I hope that the truth will soon be established, he said, 'yes, it needs to be established soon'," he said.

Schettino is accused of causing a shipwreck, manslaughter and abandoning ship before all passengers were evacuated, BBC News reported.

His lawyer has claimed his client is not solely responsible for the disaster.

Meanwhile, the wreckage of the Costa Concordia still sits in the waters off the Tuscan coast. It's not expected to be removed until spring 2013.