Thursday 14 December 2017

Concordia captain faces 26 years in jail if convicted

Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino will learn this week if he is to spend most of his remaining years in an Italian prison
Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino will learn this week if he is to spend most of his remaining years in an Italian prison
July 2014: Hauled by a team of eight tug boats the Concordia was slowly towed through the harbour at Genoa as a cacophony of sirens rang out from other boats

Michael Day

Three years and one month after he crashed the Costa Concordia on to rocks off the Tuscan coast with the loss of 32 lives, former captain Francesco Schettino will learn this week if he is to spend most of his remaining years in an Italian prison.

Prosecutors in the regional capital Grosseto are demanding that Mr Schettino be sentenced to more than 26 years after the vessel he was captaining, with more than 4,000 passengers and crew aboard, partially capsized on the night of January 13 2012, near the island of Giglio.

Mr Schettino (54) is charged with multiple manslaughter and causing a shipwreck. He is also accused of abandoning ship ahead of his passengers. The ex-commander, who became a national hate figure, created more headlines when he sought to defend himself from the latter charge by claiming he had "fallen into a lifeboat and couldn't get out".

The prosecution says Mr Schettino should face jail immediately if convicted due to the gravity of the crime and the risk he might flee the country.

"Francesco Schettino has lied to everyone, to the press, to the court, to the maritime authorities," prosecutor Maria Navarro said in justifying her call for a sentence of 26 years and three months. "He has never accepted responsibility."

With summing up continuing today, court sources say a verdict is unlikely before tomorrow evening. Most observers, noting the severe attitude taken by the three-person judging panel, have predicted a guilty verdict on one or more of the charges.

Mr Schettino was in command of the 290m vessel, when in a deviation from its standard route, it passed very close to the shore of Giglio to perform a crowd-pleasing "inchino" or salute. During this manoeuvre, it hit a rock which tore a 50m hole in the ship's side.

Lawyers for Mr Schettino, who denies the charges, have defended his delayed evacuation order by claiming in closing arguments that the ship was still the safest place for passengers.

(© Independent News Service)

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