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Striking lawyers in Italy prompt delay of Costa Concordia trial

Posted Jul 9, 2013 11:59 AM CDT
By Molly McDonough

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A nationwide strike by lawyers in Italy has prompted a judge to delay the start of the high-profile trial of the captain of the shipwrecked Costa Concordia.

The manslaughter trial against Capt. Francesco Schettino, which was to begin Tuesday in Tuscany in a theater converted to accommodate the 2012 shipwreck's survivors and relatives, was promptly postponed by Judge Giovanni Puliatti because of the strike, the Associated Press reports.

Lawyers, including many of whom have seats in Italy's parliament, are upset over proposed reforms to streamline jury trials and by a Justice Ministry accusation that the lawyers are blocking reforms.

The strike was called after a decree aimed at accelerating civil trials was passed by Prime Minister Enrico Letta's government. Lawyers from Organismo Unitario dell'Avvocatura or OUA complained that a new requirement for mediation to prevent lengthy trials was unconstitutional, Reuters reports.

Reuters notes that the strike will impact trials set to take place in Italy between July 8 and July 16. Judge Puliatti scheduled the next hearing in the Costa Concordia case for July 17.

Defense lawyer Domenico Pepe, who represents Schettino, told AP that some 1,000 witnesses, many of them passengers and crew, will be called to testify.

Also see:

ABAJournal.com: "Captain Who Argued re Coast Guard Order to Reboard Grounded Concordia Liner Found Unfit to Command"

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