Former captain guilty of multiple manslaughter
The former captain of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia has been found guilty of manslaughter and was sentenced to 16 years in prison by a court in Grosseto on 11 February.
Francesco Schettino was convicted on charges of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, abandoning ship and abandoning the incapable, for his role in the fatal shipwreck on 13 January 2012 off the Tuscan island of Giglio, which resulted in the deaths of 32 people.
The court's verdict was reached after a 19-month-long trial in which investigators blamed Schettino for the 32 fatalities after he brought the 292m-long luxury cruise liner too close to shore, in an apparent act of bravado, running the vessel aground on rocks.
The chaotic evacuation that ensued saw Schettino abandon the ship before all his 4,200 passengers and crew members were evacuated, in what is Italy's worst post-war maritime disaster.
Prosecutors had requested Schettino be jailed for 26 years but in the end the three-judge panel sentenced him to 16 years and one month, although for the moment he is free. The court rejected a prosecution request for Schettino's arrest, saying there was no evidence to suggest he would seek to flee Italian justice. The judges ruled instead that Schettino would not go to prison until the appeals process is completed, which can take years.
Schettino and his former employers Costa Criuses were also jointly ordered to pay a total of €30,000 each in compensation to many of the ship's passengers as well as millions of euro in damages to Italian government ministries, Tuscany's regional government and Giglio.
The 114,500-ton ship wreck was the subject of a complex and unprecedented salvage operation, during which a Spanish diver lost his life, before it was successfully towed away from Giglio and taken to Genoa for dismantling last July.