The captain of a cruise ship that ran aground off the Italian coast, claiming the lives of 32 people, has made a last-ditch attempt for a plea bargain deal at his trial.
Lawyers for Francesco Schettino, who was in charge of the Costa Concordia liner when it crashed into rocks off the island of Giglio last year, said he was ready to plead guilty in exchange for a prison sentence of three years and five months.
But the defence said it held little hope the judge would allow such a deal as the trial resumed in Grosseto, the town closest to where the shipwreck happened, after a week-long suspension because of a lawyers' strike.
The captain, the only defendant, risks up to 20 years in jail if found guilty on charges of manslaughter, abandoning ship and causing the shipwreck.
The plea bargain request was made after an earlier bid for a deal was thrown out by the judge in charge of preliminary investigations into what happened.
Schettino is accused of abandoning ship before all the crew and passengers had been rescued.
His lawyers argue he prevented an even worse disaster by steering the 290-metre (950ft) vessel into shallow waters after the impact and that he was thrown overboard due to the angle of the leaning ship.
The trial began on July 9 but was immediately suspended because lawyers involved were taking part in a nationwide strike against measures to streamline civil trials.
The hearing, which is expected to last for more than a year, is being held in an improvised courtroom in Grosseto's theatre with the panel of judges seated on the stage.
Before proceedings began on Wednesday Francesco Di Ciollo, who represents two Italian families, said: "We're here today to get justice.
"Survivors have to live with anxiety for the rest of their lives. There was darkness, panic … they were stranded inside without a way out."
The Costa Concordia crashed off Giglio on the night of January 13, 2012 with 4,229 people from 70 countries on board.
Schettino was nicknamed "Captain Coward" for leaving while terrified people were trapped aboard the vessel and then sobbing in the arms of the ship's chaplain.
The 52-year-old has been depicted as a blackguard who was showing off for a blonde female guest when he performed a risky manoeuvre to "salute" the island.
The Concordia crashed as many of the passengers were sitting down to dinner. A delayed and chaotic evacuation saw some desperately throw themselves overboard into the dark sea as lifeboats ran out.
Many of those who jumped into the sea and managed to swim to shore have recalled their shock and amazement that Schettino was already there on shore others were still on the boat.
Most of the last survivors had to be lifted to safety from the capsized wreck by helicopters.
Some lawyers have been arguing the captain should not be the sole defendant and Costa Crociere, Europe's biggest cruise operator, should share the blame.
Massimiliano Gabrielli, who represents members of a group called 'Justice for the Concordia', accused Costa of "choosing to save the ship instead of saving people" - a reference to the delay of over an hour between the crash and the order to abandon ship.
Schettino's lawyers, Domenico and Francesco Pepe, have called for 100 witnesses and pledged to show that "no single person was responsible".
They plan to question Costa Crociere management and ask about materials used to build the ship and the apparent malfunction of emergency doors and back-up generators.
Moldovan dancer, Domnica Cemortan, who was on the bridge with him when the collision occurred, is also concerned he is the only person on trial.
Ms Cemortan was travelling as a passenger but had worked in the past as a hostess for the Italian cruise operator.
She attended court on Wednesday to formally ask to join hundreds of other survivors in civil actions attached to the criminal trial that could result in hefty compensation payments.
Five other people have been charged over the disaster, including the ship's Indonesian helmsman and the head of Costa Crociere's crisis unit.
The five have negotiated plea bargains which are due to be ruled on at a separate hearing on July 20.
The Costa Concordia still lies beached on its side, its rusting frame dwarfed by blue cranes and a floating hotel for divers and salvage workers.
The vessel is due to be re-floated but technical difficulties have repeatedly hampered the salvage and there have been warnings it may be more damaged than previously thought.