Tuesday 20 November 2018

Costa Concordia: Captain Francesco Schettino sentenced to 16 years for manslaughter

Captain of the Costa Concordia cruise liner Francesco Schettino stands in court during his trial in Grosseto. An Italian prosecutor has asked the court to sentence Schettino to more than 26 years in jail for his role in the 2012 disaster that killed 32 people
Captain of the Costa Concordia cruise liner Francesco Schettino stands in court during his trial in Grosseto. An Italian prosecutor has asked the court to sentence Schettino to more than 26 years in jail for his role in the 2012 disaster that killed 32 people
Captain Francesco Schettino waits for the arrival of the judges in the courtroom. (AP)
Francesco Schettino was at the helm of cruise ship Concordia when it was shipwrecked off an Italian island
Francesco Schettino, the captain of the capsized cruise ship Costa Concordia

The captain of the capsized Costa Concordia luxury liner has been convicted of multiple charges of manslaughter and sentenced to 16 years in jail.

Francesco Schettino was not present when Judge Giovanni Puliatti read out the verdict in a theatre in Grosseto, Italy.

The cruise liner Costa Concordia is seen outside Giglio harbour. Reuters
The cruise liner Costa Concordia is seen outside Giglio harbour. Reuters
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
GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 24: Firefighters conduct a search operation onboard the Costa Concordia on September 24, 2013 in Giglio Porto, Italy. Today the search resumed for the missing bodies of Maria Grazia Tricarichi and Russsel Rebello, whose bodies were never found after the Costa Concordia capsized on January 13, 2012, leaving 32 people dead. Specialist divers from the coastguard, fire brigade and police have begun searching the area between the righted ship and the coast and other parts of the vessel which were previously off limits. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 24: A Titan worker looks at the stricken ship while firefighters conduct a search operation onboard the Costa Concordia on September 24, 2013 in Giglio Porto, Italy. Today the search resumed for the missing bodies of Maria Grazia Tricarichi and Russsel Rebello, whose bodies were never found after the Costa Concordia capsized on January 13, 2012, leaving 32 people dead. Specialist divers from the coastguard, fire brigade and police have begun searching the area between the righted ship and the coast and other parts of the vessel which were previously off limits. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 24: Divers of the Nucleo Operatori Subacquei Guardia Costiera (Coast Guard) conduct a search operation onboard the Costa Concordia on September 24, 2013 in Giglio Porto, Italy. Today the search resumed for the missing bodies of Maria Grazia Tricarichi and Russsel Rebello, whose bodies were never found after the Costa Concordia capsized on January 13, 2012, leaving 32 people dead. Specialist divers from the coastguard, fire brigade and police have begun searching the area between the righted ship and the coast and other parts of the vessel which were previously off limits. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
A boy prepares to snorkel in front of the wreckage of capsized cruise liner Costa Concordia. An Italian prosecutor has asked a court to sentence the captain of the Costa Concordia to more than 26 years in jail for his role in the 2012 disaster that killed 32 people
GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 24: Divers of the Nucleo Operatori Subacquei Guardia Costiera (Coast Guard) conduct a search operation onboard the Costa Concordia on September 24, 2013 in Giglio Porto, Italy. Today the search resumed for the missing bodies of Maria Grazia Tricarichi and Russsel Rebello, whose bodies were never found after the Costa Concordia capsized on January 13, 2012, leaving 32 people dead. Specialist divers from the coastguard, fire brigade and police have begun searching the area between the righted ship and the coast and other parts of the vessel which were previously off limits. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 24: A detail of the ship straightened Costa Concordia is seen on September 24, 2013 in Giglio Porto, Italy. Today the search resumed for the missing bodies of Maria Grazia Tricarichi and Russsel Rebello, whose bodies were never found after the Costa Concordia capsized on January 13, 2012, leaving 32 people dead. Specialist divers from the coastguard, fire brigade and police have begun searching the area between the righted ship and the coast and other parts of the vessel which were previously off limits. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)

The verdict and sentencing brought a close to a trial that has been running since July 2013.

Schettino was convicted of manslaughter in relation to the deaths of 32 passengers and crew in the January 13 2012 capsizing as well as of causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship while many of the 4,200 passengers and crew were still on board.

Prosecutors had insisted Schettino was a "reckless idiot" and asked the court to sentence him to 26 years and three months in prison.

But the former captain told the court earlier he was being "sacrificed" to safeguard the economic interests of his employer. He then broke down in sobs immediately before the panel began deliberating.

Francesco Schettino was at the helm of cruise ship Concordia when it was shipwrecked off an Italian island
Francesco Schettino was at the helm of cruise ship Concordia when it was shipwrecked off an Italian island

"That's enough," Schettino said, unable to finish his statement to the three-judge panel.

Testimony put the spotlight on errors by other crew and equipment malfunctions after the Concordia smashed into a jagged reef when Schettino steered the ship close to the Tuscan island's shoreline while passengers were having supper in the main dining room.

The reef gashed the hull, seawater rushed in, and the Concordia listed badly, finally ending up on its side outside Giglio's port. Autopsies determined that victims drowned aboard ship or in the sea after either falling or jumping off the ship during a chaotic, delayed evacuation.

Schettino said he was "a few hours from a verdict that should have involved an entire organisation and instead sees me as the only defendant".

"My head was sacrificed to serve economic interests," the 54-year-old Neapolitan seaman told the court.

Lawyers for many of the survivors and victims' families have attached civil suits to the criminal trial to press the court to order Costa Crociere SpA, the Italian cruise company, to pay hefty damages.

While insisting Schettino deserves conviction and a stiff prison sentence, the plaintiffs' lawyers have lamented to the court that no one from the cruise company's upper echelons was put on trial.

The court rejected prosecutors' requests that Schettino be immediately arrested.

In Italy, defendants have two levels of appeals and sentences do not begin being served until those appeals are exhausted.

Read more below

Concordia captain 'was sacrificed' 

The 'Tsunami of evidence' against Concordia captain

Concordia captain was hero, trial told

Concordia captain faces 26 years in jail if convicted

Captain ruled out early evacuation

Captain of Concordia ruled out early evacuation 

Press Association

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