Concordia captain's lawyers defend slow evacuation order

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ROME (AP) — Lawyers for the captain of the shipwrecked Costa Concordia are defending his delayed evacuation order, saying in closing arguments that the ship was still the safest place for passengers and that he gave the order once it became clear the Concordia was going down.

Capt. Francesco Schettino is charged with manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and leaving the ship before all passengers were evacuated. Thirty-two people died in the Jan. 13, 2012, wreck off Tuscany. Prosecutors have asked for the court in Grosetto to convict him and sentence him to 26 years and three months in prison.

In closing arguments Thursday, defense attorneys complained that prosecutors had "ghettoized" Schettino.

Five other Costa employees indicted in the case were allowed to enter plea bargains. None is serving prison time.

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