Costa Concordia captain returns to cruise ship

The Italian captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship that crashed in 2012 and killed 32 people has returned to the ship for the first time.

Francesco Schettino is accused of leaving the liner before all its passengers were taken off the ship, and has returned to the wreck as part of his manslaughter trial.

Schettino was being allowed on to the ship "as a defendant, not a consultant", said Judge Giovanni Puliatti. Credit: EBU

Schettino has already accepted some responsibility, but denies abandoning the ship after it hit a reef near the island of Giglio.

Schettino maintains he managed to steer the stricken vessel to shallower water closer to shore, avoiding potentially hundreds of deaths.

A small boat took Schettino out to wreck of the the luxury liner. Credit: EBU

"They want to show that I am weak, just like two years ago. It's not true. I want to show I'm a gentleman, not a coward," Italian media quoted him as saying.

An Italian court convicted five others of manslaughter in July 2013.