Costa Concordia cruise ship, which ran aground off Italy last year, has been adjourned until next week

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Capt Francesco Schettino, 52, faces charges of multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship.

Thirty-two people died when the ship hit rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio in January 2012 and then tipped onto its side.

Tuesday’s hearing was adjourned because of a nationwide lawyers’ strike.

Capt Schettino has been accused of steering the luxury liner too fast and too close to the shore, and of leaving the ship before all of the 4,229 passengers and crew were taken off.

He was allegedly performing a risky night-time sail-past salute to people on the tiny island of Giglio.

The ship was holed by rocks on the left-hand side causing it to list, as passengers dined on the first night of the cruise.

A chaotic and disorganised evacuation ensued. By the time the order to evacuate the ship came, the Costa Concordia was listing so far to one side that many lifeboats could not be used.

Capt Schettino denies the charges, and his defence is expected to argue that no single person was to blame for the accident.

He claims his manoeuvring of the ship closer to shore saved lives.

The trial is being heard in Grosseto, a city 90 miles (145km) north-west of Rome which is nearest to the site of the wreck. It is taking place in the city’s theatre, rather than its small courthouse.

In addition to the hundreds of survivors seeking compensation, the local authorities in Giglio are hoping for at least 80m euros (£68m; $105m) to make up for alleged lost revenue and the eyesore that has been on its shoreline.

Up to 430 witnesses and 250 plaintiffs could be called during Capt Schettino’s trial, AFP news agency reports.

His lawyers say he faces a maximum 20 years in jail if found guilty.

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