Rome - Italian prosecutors on Monday asked judges to start a trial against the captain accused of causing last year's deadly Costa Concordia shipwreck.

The Concordia, a luxury cruise liner, hit rocks and ran aground off the island of Giglio on January 13, 2012, after Francesco Schettino steered it dangerously close to the coast. Of the 4 229 passengers, 32 died. Two bodies are still missing.

Schettino will have to defend himself against numerous accusations, including multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, abandoning ship, and lack of co-operation with maritime authorities, prosecutors said.

Chief prosecutor Francesco Verusio spoke of Schettino's “immense responsibility” for the disaster and blamed him for the “striking series of mistakes he committed”.

Prosecutors urged the indictment of five other crew members for manslaughter and other offences. However, they dropped charges against Schettino, other Costa Crociera employees and the company itself of causing damage to an environmentally protected area.

In an unusual move, they communicated their decision about dropping the charges in a YouTube message, published in six languages.

Prosecutors also said they accepted a request by Costa Crociera for a plea bargain agreement, which could see the US-controlled company pay a fine of one million euros. - Sapa-dpa