Wires

Captain of capsized cruise ship says sacking unfair

* Sacked captain also faces charges of manslaughter

* Lawyer says every worker has right to challenge dismissal

ROME, Oct 10 (Reuters) - The captain of the Costa Concordiawhich ran into a rock and capsized off the Italian coast inJanuary, killing up to 32 people, has sued for wrongfuldismissal, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Italian Francesco Schettino was not only fired by CostaCruises but is accused by prosecutors of causing theaccident by sailing the luxury cruiser liner too close to shore.

He faces charges of multiple manslaughter and abandoningship and preliminary hearings will begin on Oct. 15.

"It is the right of every worker to appeal against hisdismissal and Captain Schettino has done no more than exercisethat right," lawyer Bruno Leporatti said.

"There is nothing to contest or be amazed about, unless wewant to say that what the law allows for all citizens doesn'tapply for Francesco Schettino."

Schettino was held up to ridicule in Italy and abroadfollowing the Jan. 13 disaster off the Tuscan island of Giglioand his name became a symbol of incompetence and cowardice.

The angry order to "Get back on board, damn it!" deliveredby a coast guard officer to Schettino over the telephone afterhe had abandoned his ship was printed on T-shirts in Italy.

Investigators said Schettino brought the 290-m (950-ft)-longvessel too close to shore, delayed evacuation and lost controlof the operation during which he left the sinking ship whilemany of the 4,200 passengers and crew were still on board.

The Naples-born captain has always acknowledged makingmistakes once it became clear that the 144,400-tonne CostaConcordia was in trouble, but has said he was not the only onewho should be blamed for the tragedy.

(Reporting By Gavin Jones; Editing by Michael Roddy)

((gavin.jones@thomsonreuters.com)(+39 06 8522 4232))

Keywords: ITALY SHIPWRECK/DISMISSAL

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