Home World Europe News Francesco Schettino trial: Costa Concordia captain makes final appeal ahead of verdict

Francesco Schettino trial: Costa Concordia captain makes final appeal ahead of verdict

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The Costa Concordia’s captain, Francesco Schettino, broke into sobs as he made a final appeal to judges ahead of a verdict in his trial.

Francesco Schettino said he had been made a scapegoat for the accident.

Thirty-two people died in January 2012 when the cruise ship was steered too close to the island of Giglio and hit rocks.

The prosecution wants Francesco Schettino jailed for 26 years for multiple manslaughter, but the captain denies all the charges against him.

Speaking on the last day of his trial, Francesco Schettino said his head had been “offered for sacrifice” in order to safeguard economic interests.

“I have spent the last three years in a media meat grinder,” he said.

“It is difficult to call what I have been living through a <<life>>.”Francesco Schettino trial Costa Concordia disaster

The wrecked ship captain added: “All the responsibility has been loaded on to me with no respect for the truth or for the memory of the victims.”

Capt. Francesco Schettino was unable to finish his statement, saying “enough” before slumping back into his seat.

The judges in the 19-month trial are due to retire on February 11 to consider a verdict.

Investigators have severely criticized Capt Francesco Schettino’s handling of the disaster, accusing him of bringing the 290m-long vessel too close to shore when it struck rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio.

The trial, in the city of Grosseto, has heard how Costa Concordia was ripped open on the rocks and more than 4,000 passengers and crew were forced into a chaotic evacuation.

Francesco Schettino has also been accused of compounding his crime by abandoning his vessel and saving himself while passengers were in danger – earning him the title “Captain Coward” in the Italian media.

Prosecutors have asked for Francesco Schettino to be jailed on charges of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship with passengers and crew still on board.

Throughout the trial, the captain’s lawyers have argued that it was a collective failure and others should share the blame for the disaster.

Francesco Schettino has spoken of “commercial reasons” for taking the liner so close to the coast in an attempt to please his passengers and those ashore.

He has rejected rumors that he had wanted to impress his lover, Domnica Cemortan, who was with him at the helm.

In the aftermath of the wreck the ship’s operator, Costa Crociere, was allowed to make a plea bargain and was fined €1 million ($1.13 million).

Some of the survivors argue that Costa Crociere still has questions to answer on issues such as the caliber of the ship’s crew and its operating procedures.

Five senior crew members were convicted of manslaughter in July 2013.

Two officers, the helmsman, the head of cabin service and the head of the crisis team were given up to two years and 10 months in plea bargains.

Francesco Schettino’s request for a plea bargain was turned down.

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