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>>.”
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.
The trial of the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster, Capt. Francesco Schettino, is in its final moments in Italy.
Thirty-two people died in January 2012 when Costa Concordia was steered too close to the island of Giglio and hit rocks.
Francesco Schettino is about to find out whether he is guilty of multiple manslaughter.
The prosecution has demanded that Francesco Schettino be jailed for 26 years but the captain denies all the charges against him.
Prosecution and defense lawyers have made final statements, and the judges are close to delivering their verdict.
They have heard how Captain Francesco Schettino sailed his huge ship into disaster.
The captain has told the court that he was attempting to “salute” the island, by carrying out a sort of nautical fly-past that would take the liner skimming past the coast, very close in.
It was an attempt to impress his passengers and those ashore.
The court has examined in detail all that happened when the stunt went terribly wrong: how the ship was ripped open on the rocks and more than 4,000 passengers and crew were forced into a chaotic evacuation in the dark of a winter’s night.
In its closing arguments the prosecution told the court Francesco Schettino had acted with “monstrously gross negligence”.
It said Francesco Schettino had compounded his crime by abandoning his vessel, saving himself, while many of his passengers were still in great danger.
“The captain’s duty to abandon ship last isn’t just an obligation dictated by ancient maritime tradition, but also a legal obligation designed to minimize injuries,” said the prosecution.
Capt. Francesco Schettino “thought only and always of himself”.
All along, Francesco Schettino and his lawyers have argued that others should share the blame for the disaster, that it was a collective failure.
He pointed to the fact that the helmsman had been slow to carry out a steering order at a crucial moment as the ship closed in on the rocks. And he said others on the bridge should have seen the danger coming.
“One of the officers should have said to me, <<Commander, we are on the rocks>>, but instead there was a general silence.”
Francesco Schettino vigorously rejects the allegation that he was so gripped by indecision as the disaster engulfed him that he badly delayed giving the order to abandon ship, endangering many more people.
He argues that he waited because he knew the wind was carrying the ship into shallower, safer water. He insists that his action actually saved many lives.
This trial, with its hundreds of witnesses and thousands of documents was too big for Grosseto’s courthouse, so it was moved to the local theatre, the Teatro Moderno, and the drama is unfolding there.
Outside on the street, a growing throng of journalists watches the lawyers and court officials come and go.
In the bars and cafes, nobody really doubts that Francesco Schettino will be found guilty.
In court, Francesco Schettino’s lawyer, Domenico Pepe, appealed to the judges to acquit the captain. But he also said: “If the court has to impose a penalty, we believe it should be the minimum one in the light of the extenuating circumstances.”
In the aftermath of the wreck of its vessel Costa Crociere was allowed to make a plea bargain and was fined €1 million ($1.13 million).
However, some of the survivors and their lawyers argue that the company still has questions to answer on issues such as the caliber of the ship’s crew and its operating procedures.
On the eve of the verdict, one of the survivors asked how the company could have put a man like Francesco Schettino in charge of the Concordia.
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.
An Italian court has convicted five people of manslaughter over the deadly 2012 Costa Concordia shipwreck off Giglio
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.
Italian rescue teams have abandoned their search for bodies inside the wrecked cruise ship Costa Concordia after conditions underwater deteriorated.
“We have definitively stopped the underwater search inside the ship,” a spokesman for the fire brigade on Giglio island said.
Fifteen people are still missing after the ship ran aground off Italy on 13 January with the loss of 17 lives.
Work to recover the capsized vessel may take up to 10 months.
Italy’s civil protection agency, which has been overseeing rescue efforts, said it had contacted the families of the missing, and the foreign embassies involved, to explain its decision.
Emergency crews would continue to inspect the part of the ship that is above the water line and use specialist equipment to check whether there could be any corpses on the sea bed, it said.
Italian rescue teams have abandoned their search for bodies inside the wrecked cruise ship Costa Concordia after conditions underwater deteriorated
Divers have described tricky conditions inside the ship, with corridors cluttered with furniture and turbid waters.
Dives has been limited to a maximum of 50 minutes, making it difficult to penetrate far into the vessel.
Work to pump out more than 2,300 tons of fuel from the ship has been hampered by bad weather.
The operation to move the ship itself cannot safely begin until the fuel is removed.
The 114,500-ton Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground on rocks with more than 4,200 people on board.
Costa Concordia was holed by a rock after being steered by its captain to within 150 metres (yards) of the tiny island of Giglio.
Captain Francesco Schettino is under house arrest in his home town of Meta di Sorrento, near Naples, while his actions are investigated.
Francesco Schettino is accused of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, and abandoning ship before all passengers were evacuated. He denies the allegations.
Costa Crociere, which is part of the world’s largest cruise ship operator Carnival Group, has offered uninjured passengers 11,000 euros ($14,500) each in compensation, on condition that they drop any legal action.
However, a consumer group and two US law firms are filing a class-action lawsuit in the US, demanding at least $160,000 for each passenger on the ship.
Francesco Schettino, the captain of Costa Concordia cruise ship that capsized on Friday, killing at least 11 people, has admitted making a navigation mistake, Italian media say.
Francesco Schettino, 52, told investigators he had “ordered the turn too late” as the luxury ship sailed close to an island, according to a leaked interrogation transcript.
The Costa Concordia ran aground with about 4,200 people on board.
More than 20 people are still missing but the search for survivors has been halted.
According to the leaked transcript quoted by Italian media, Captain Francesco Schettino said the route of the Costa Concordia on the first day of its Mediterranean cruise had been decided as it left the port of Civitavecchia, near Rome, on Friday.
Francesco Schettino reportedly told the investigating judge in the city of Grosseto that he had decided to sail close to Giglio to salute a former captain who had a home on the Tuscan island.
“I was navigating by sight because I knew the depths well and I had done this manoeuvre three or four times,” Francesco Schettino reportedly said.
“But this time I ordered the turn too late and I ended up in water that was too shallow. I don’t know why it happened.”
The ship’s owners, Costa Crociere, said earlier this week that the change of route had not been authorized.
On Tuesday, Captain Francesco Schettino’s lawyer said his client had told the judge that lives had been saved thanks to the manoeuvre he made after the ship hit rocks.
Francesco Schettino, the captain of Costa Concordia cruise ship that capsized on Friday, killing at least 11 people, has admitted making a navigation mistake
Francesco Schettino is under house arrest on suspicion of multiple manslaughter. Prosecutors have also accused him of fleeing the ship before evacuation was complete.
A recording of a call between him and a port official after the crash appears to support this, though Captain Francesco Schettino denies the claims.
In the recording, released by the Corriere della Sera newspaper, Livorno Port Authority chief Gregorio De Falco can be heard repeatedly telling the captain to get back on board to help passengers.
“Schettino, maybe you saved yourself from the sea, but I’ll make you have trouble for sure. Go aboard,” says Gregorio De Falco.
Francesco Schettino appears to refuse, replying first that there are rescuers already on board, and then that it is dark and difficult to see.
Coastguards believe he never went back to the ship. He was arrested on the island shortly afterwards.
During the hearing, Francesco Schettino reportedly said he could not get on board the vessel because it was lying on its side.
Italian media also quote Francesco Schettino as telling the judge he had left the ship accidentally after tripping and falling into a rescue craft.
If the reports of Francesco Schettino’s answers under questioning are correct, then this amounts to an admission of the most reckless incompetence.
Meanwhile, the first dead victim to be identified was a 38-year-old Hungarian violinist, Sandor Feher.
His body was found in the wreck and identified by his mother, Hungary’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday.
The search for survivors has been suspended, with officials saying there is a risk of the Costa Concordia sinking completely in rough seas.
Officials are hoping to begin salvage work soon, including pumping oil off the wreck. There are fears the vessel might slip into deeper water off the Tuscan coast.
A specialist team from a Dutch salvage company is preparing to pump more than 2,300 tons of fuel from the ship’s 17 tanks.
Italian Environment Minister Corrado Clini said it should take about 10 days to pump all the fuel out of the ship. He said if the fuel could not be contained the local environment was at risk.
“If we consider 2,400 tons of fuel, the damage could be terrible,” Corrado Clini said.
Corrado Clini said the government would declare a state of emergency later this week to release state funds to deal with any environmental problems
Meanwhile, satellite tracking information published by shipping journal Lloyd’s List Intelligence shows the Costa Concordia had sailed even closer to the island on a cruise last August.
Lloyd’s List said that the vessel passed within 230m of the island on 14 August 2011 to mark La Notte di San Lorenzo – the night of the shooting stars festival on the island.
The route deviation on that occasion had apparently been authorized by Costa Crociere.
Lloyd’s List describes that occasion as a “near miss” and says the ship’s route would have been less than 200m away from the point of collision on Friday’s voyage.
But Richard Meade, editor of Lloyd’s List, said: “The company’s account of what happened, of the rogue master [Capt Francesco Schettino] taking a bad decision, isn’t quite as black and white as they presented originally.
“This ship took a very similar route only a few months previously and the master would have known that.”
Francesco Schettino, the captain of doomed Costa Concordia cruise ship and the man who is now at the centre of one of Italy’s worse maritime disasters, is currently under arrest.
Francesco Schettino faces possible charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship, charges he denies.
Francesco Schettino is 52-year-old and his life has been dominated by the sea.
Born in the coastal town of Castellammare di Stabia, near the southern city of Naples, Francesco Schettino attended a nautical institute in the nearby town of Piano di Sorrento.
Few personal details are known about Francesco Schettino and his family, which is based in the Naples town of Meta. Members of his family have said they are no longer giving interviews to the press. Francesco Schettino lives in Meta with his wife and their 15-year-old daughter.
But speculation is swirling about how Costa Concordia, the vast ship he captained, almost a floating city with its 4,300 passengers and crew members, ended its journey aground and on its side, metres from the Tuscan island of Giglio.
Francesco Schettino, the captain of doomed Costa Concordia cruise ship and the man who is now at the centre of one of Italy's worse maritime disasters, is currently under arrest
Francesco Schettino joined Costa Cruises in 2002, initially as an official in charge of security. He was promoted to the role of captain in 2006, having been second-in-command.
As reports of an unplanned change of course and a terrifying and chaotic evacuation process have multiplied, the firm has been quick to distance itself from the captain who, it said, had made “serious errors of judgement”.
Costa Crociere CEO Luigi Foschi said Francesco Schettino changed a pre-programmed route to make a manoeuvre that was “unauthorised, unapproved and unknown to Costa”.
“The captain has the authority to take the decisions on board. In this case, the captain decided to change the route and he went into waters that he did not know in advance,” Luigi Foschi said.
Italian newspapers have speculated that the change of course may have been a daring deviation, a kind of maritime tribute to one of the crew members who was from the small island.
The reason for the dramatic shift in route will only be revealed by the criminal investigation but, in a television interview given hours after the ship capsized, Francesco Schettino’s shock and disbelief is clear.
“I firmly believe that the rock was not shown,” he tells the reporter, seemingly incredulous at what had happened.
“We didn’t hit it with the bow of the boat, but from the side, as if this rock had some kind of spike beneath the water. I don’t know if it was picked up or not but on the nautical chart it said that we should have had deep water beneath us. […] We were about 300 metres from the rocks, more or less, we shouldn’t have hit anything,” Francesco Schettino said.
In an earlier interview, francesco Schettino was full of confidence in his abilities and the technology that underpins modern cruise ship travel. But some of his words may come back to haunt him.
“I wouldn’t want to be the captain of the Titanic, forced to navigate between icebergs,” Francesco Schettino told a reporter from Czech newspaper Dnes in 2010.
“But I think that with the right preparation any situation can be overcome and any problem prevented,” he added.
When asked whether the 1997 film Titanic had discouraged people from going on a cruise, Francesco Schettino’s response was: “Luckily, people forget tragedies quickly. It’s like plane crashes. Everyone thinks that it couldn’t happen to them.”
As the accusations against Francesco Schettino grow, there have been those who have come to his defense, setting up a Facebook page with 1,500 fans.
Many of them are sailors themselves who have commented on how Francesco Schettino’s decision to steer the ship towards port after it collided with the rock had probably saved dozens of lives.
According to an interview in Naples-based Il Mattino newspaper quoting his sister, the first person Francesco Schettino called after the incident was his 80-year-old mother, Rosa.
“He called her at five in the morning on Saturday to tell her there had been a disaster, that he had tried to save as many passengers as possible and not to worry, because it was all over,” his sister said.
More than 24 hours after Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian coast, three survivors have been found on the stricken cruise ship.
Rescuers are trying to reach a third survivor, hours after a honeymooning South Korean couple were rescued.
Three people are so far confirmed dead and about 40 are unaccounted for.
Francesco Schettino, the Italian captain of the Costa Concordia has been arrested on suspicion of multiple homicide. Prosecutors say he left the ship before evacuation was complete.
First officer Ciro Ambrosio has also been detained.
The ship’s operator, Costa Crociere, said the vessel had been following its regular course when it hit a submerged rock.
In a TV interview, ship’s captain Francesco Schettino said the rock was not marked on any maritime charts.
Police are investigating why the accident happened in calm conditions.
More than 24 hours after Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian coast, three survivors have been found on the stricken cruise ship
The South Korean couple was located after rescuers heard voices from a cabin two decks down on the half-submerged ship late on Saturday. They were reached a few hours later.
The newlyweds, both 29 years old, were both in good health when they were brought ashore.
Later on Sunday morning, rescuers located and spoke to the third person found inside the ship. Officials say he is a senior Italian member of the crew, and they believe he has a serious injury to his leg.
Two scuba divers were smashing a window on the ship trying to get to someone inside.
Two French passengers and a Peruvian crew member died, and another 30 people were injured, two seriously.
Divers are continuing to search the ship, which is lying on its side near the Tuscan island of Giglio.
President of Costa Cruises, Gianni Onorato, said the main task for the company was now to assist survivors and help repatriate them.
He said it was difficult to determine what had happened, but that the ship had experienced a blackout after hitting “a big rock”.
Gianni Onorato added: “We will be working in full transparency with Italian authorities to understand the causes of the disaster.”
He said normal lifeboat evacuation had become “almost impossible” because the ship had listed so quickly.
Francesco Schettino, the 52-year-old captain, had worked for Costa Cruises for 11 years.
The chief prosecutor in the city of Grosseto told reporters that Captain Francesco Schettino “very ineptly got close to Giglio”, according to Italy’s Ansa news agency.
Italian, German, French and British nationals were among the 3,200 passengers on board. There were also 1,000 crew members.
Coast guard captain Cosimo Nicastro told Italian TV that divers had carried out an extensive search of the waters near the vessel and found no further bodies.
On Saturday, survivors were taken to Porta San Stefano, about 25km (15 miles) away on the mainland.
Many arrived there still wrapped in blankets, and some were clearly very shaken by what they had endured.
Passenger Luciano Castro told Ansa news agency: “We heard a loud noise while we were at dinner as if the keel of the ship hit something.”
“The ship started taking in water through the hole and began tilting.”
Some passengers told the Associated Press news agency that the crew had failed to give instructions on how to evacuate the ship.
Several passengers compared the accident to the film Titanic, about the sinking of the giant ocean liner in April 1912 which claimed more than 1,500 lives.