A court in Grosseto Italy on Wednesday sentenced the captain of the shipwrecked liner the Costa Concordia, to 16 years and one month in prison. In an extraordinary tragedy, the Costa Concordia ran aground off the Tuscan island of Giglio in January 2012 with the loss of 32 lives.
In the verdict, the Grosseto court found Capt Francesco Schettino guilty of multiple manslaughter and of having abandoned his ship before all of the 4,000 passengers and crew had alighted. Capt Schettino, who was not in court for the verdict, is almost certain to appeal. In the meantime, the court did not call for his immediate arrest, while the sentence also imposed a five-year ban as a ship’s captain.
Both Captian Schettino and the ship’s owners, Costa Cruise Lines, have been ordered to pay huge damages to various different public and private entities including the Italian government, the region of Tuscany, the island of Giglio local authority and the Civil Protection Service.
In his summing up on Tuesday, public prosecutor Stefano Pizza said there was a “tsunami” of evidence against Capt Schettino, claiming it would be “easier for a lawyer to fly” than to defend Schettino. In essence, the prosecution accused Capt Schettino of total irresponsibility for the manner in which he chose to effect a “sail-past” with the 1,000 foot long Concordia, sailing just yards, rather than the required kilometres, past the rocks off Giglio.
Furthermore, he was accused both of having unnecessarily delayed the “abandon ship” call and then of himself having got off the ship up to two hours before many of the crew and passengers. More details here.