An Italian court has convicted five people of manslaughter over the deadly 2012 Costa Concordia shipwreck off Giglio.
The boat’s helmsman, cabin service director, two ship officers and the head of the Italian company’s crisis team were sentenced to up to two years and 10 months in prison for multiple manslaughter, negligence and shipwreck.
Reports say they may avoid prison-time.
The trial of Captain Francesco Schettino has been adjourned after he requested electrical tests on the ship.
Francesco Schettino is charged with multiple manslaughter for causing the shipwreck and abandoning the vessel with thousands still aboard. His case will resume on 23 September after Italy’s summer holidays.
Thirty-two people were killed when the Costa Crociere ship capsized off the island of Giglio in January 2012.
Deputy commander Ciro Ambrosio, third officer Silvia Coronica, helmsman Jacob Rusli Bin, cabin service manager and Costa Crociere crisis co-ordinator Roberto Ferrarini
The five defendants were Roberto Ferrarini, director of the Italian cruise company’s crisis unit, cabin service director Manrico Giampedroni, first officer Ciro Ambrosio, Indonesian helmsman Jacob Rusli Bin and third officer Silvia Coronica.
They received prison sentences ranging from 18 months to two years and 10 months as the court agreed to plea bargains in order to avoid a lengthy trial.
The heaviest sentence was given to Roberto Ferranini who was ashore as the disaster unfolded and in charge of co-ordinating the cruise ship company’s response to the crisis.
None is likely to go to jail as sentences of under two years are suspended in Italy, while longer sentences may be appealed or replaced with community service, Reuters cited judicial sources as saying.
Francesco Schettino’s lawyers say he faces a maximum 20 years in jail if found guilty. He denies the charges and says that without his actions many more people would have died.
The trial is taking place in Grosseto, the city nearest the site of the wreck, and much of the case against him has already been disclosed in a report by court-appointed experts.
Francesco Schettino has been accused of leaving the luxury liner before all those on board – 4,229 – had been evacuated and steering it too fast and too close to shore during a night-time, sail-past salute to people on the tiny island off Tuscany.
He has already accepted some degree of responsibility, asking for forgiveness in a television interview last year as he talked of those who died.
However, Francesco Schettino maintains he managed to steer the stricken vessel closer to shore so it did not sink in deep water where hundreds might have drowned.
His lawyers say he is being made a scapegoat for what was simply an accident.
The vessel was holed by rocks just as many passengers were dining on the first night of their cruise. A disorganized evacuation followed as many of those on board panicked when the ship began to tilt to one side.
Costa Crociere, part of the American-based Carnival Corporation, agreed to pay a $1.3 million fine in April to settle possible criminal charges.
Most passengers have already accepted compensation of about 11,000 euros ($14,200) each, but remaining groups of survivors are holding out for more.
The Costa Concordia still lies partially submerged while salvage crews work to refloat it.
Costa Concordia jail sentences:
- Roberto Ferrarini – two years and 10 months
- Manrico Giampedroni – two years and six months
- Ciro Ambrosio – one year and 11 months
- Jacob Rusli Bin – one year and eight months
- Silvia Coronica – one year and six months