Costa Concordia Captain Guilty, Sentenced To 16 Years In Prison

Former Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino was found guilty on numerous charges, including several counts of manslaughter. The former captain is accused of negligence, which contributed to a devastating 2012 shipwreck and the deaths of 32 people.

Although he was facing up to 26 years in prison, Schettino was sentenced to 16 years. He is also forbidden from commanding a ship for a period of five years.

In January 2012, Costa Concordia embarked on a seven-day cruise from Civitavecchia to Savona. According to official reports, 3,206 passengers and 1,023 crew members were aboard the Italian ship.

On January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia captain ordered that the ship be sailed off course. As reported by NBC News, Francesco Schettino explained that he simply wanted to “kill three birds with one stone.”

The former captain testified that he wanted to sail closer to Isola del Giglio for several reasons: he wanted to impress the passengers with a closer view, he wanted to salute to a former commander who retired on the island, and he wanted to do a favor for the ship’s maitre d’, who grew up on the island.

As Costa Concordia approached the shore, it stuck the Le Scole reef and was impaled on a large boulder. Within an hour, the ship was taking on water and listing to one side.

Although the ship was equipped with a generator and several water-tight compartments, the safety measures failed and water continued to pour into the ship.

In addition to causing the accident, the former captain received stark criticism for his behavior following the collision. According to reports, he failed to react to the incident until one hour after the ship was damaged.

He is further accused of abandoning ship with hundreds of passengers still aboard. As reported by CNN, Francesco Schettino argued that he did not intentionally leave the ship. He insists that he actually “lost his balance and fell into the lifeboat that took him to shore.”

During trial, defense attorney Domenico Pepe asserted that the passengers and crew were not killed as a direct result of Schettino’s decision to approach the island. Instead, he blamed mechanical malfunctions for causing the “chaotic evacuation.”

At the conclusion of the 19-month trial, a three-judge panel determined that the former Costa Concordia captain is guilty of abandoning ship and several counts of manslaughter. Although prosecutors suggested a sentence of 26 years, Francesco Schettino was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

[Image via Getty Images Europe]