Six Italian scientists and an ex-government official have been sentenced to six years in prison over the 2009 deadly earthquake in L’Aquila.
A regional court found them guilty of multiple manslaughter.
Prosecutors said the defendants gave a falsely reassuring statement before the quake, while the defence maintained there was no way to predict major quakes.
The 6.3 magnitude quake devastated the city and killed 309 people.
Many smaller tremors had rattled the area in the months before the quake that destroyed much of the historic centre.
It took Judge Marco Billi slightly more than four hours to reach the verdict in the trial, which had begun in September 2011.
Lawyers have said that they will appeal against the sentence. As convictions are not definitive until after at least one level of appeal in Italy, it is unlikely any of the defendants will immediately face prison.
The seven – all members of the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks – were accused of having provided “inexact, incomplete and contradictory” information about the danger of the tremors felt ahead of 6 April 2009 quake, Italian media report.
In addition to their sentences, all have been barred from ever holding public office again, La Repubblica reports.
In the closing statement, the prosecution quoted one of its witnesses, whose father died in the earthquake.
It described how Guido Fioravanti had called his mother at about 11pm on the night of the earthquake – straight after the first tremor.
“I remember the fear in her voice. On other occasions they would have fled but that night, with my father, they repeated to themselves what the risk commission had said. And they stayed.”
The judge also ordered the defendants to pay court costs and damages.
Reacting to the verdict against him, Bernardo De Bernardinis said: “I believe myself to be innocent before God and men.”
“My life from tomorrow will change,” the former vice-president of the Civil Protection Agency’s technical department said, according to La Repubblica.
“But, if I am judged by all stages of the judicial process to be guilty, I will accept my responsibility.”
Another, Enzo Boschi, described himself as “dejected” and “desperate” after the verdict was read.
“I thought I would have been acquitted. I still don’t understand what I was convicted of.”
One of the lawyers for the defence, Marcello Petrelli, described the sentences as “hasty” and “incomprehensible”.
The case has alarmed many in the scientific community, who feel science itself has been put on trial.
Some scientists have warned that the case might set a damaging precedent, deterring experts from sharing their knowledge with the public for fear of being targeted in lawsuits.
Among those convicted were some of Italy’s most prominent and internationally respected seismologists and geological experts.
Earlier, more than 5,000 scientists signed an open letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in support of the group in the dock.
• Franco Barberi, head of Serious Risks Commission
• Enzo Boschi, former president of the National Institute of Geophysics
• Giulio Selvaggi, director of National Earthquake Centre
• Gian Michele Calvi, director of European Centre for Earthquake Engineering
• Claudio Eva, physicist
• Mauro Dolce, director of the the Civil Protection Agency’s earthquake risk office
• Bernardo De Bernardinis, former vice-president of Civil Protection Agency’s technical department
Francesco Schettino, the captain of Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia, which ran aground killing more than 30 people in January, has said he is sorry for the disaster.
In an interview on Italian TV, Francesco Schettino said he thought constantly about the victims.
But he insisted others should also share the blame, saying the ship had been under the command of another officer at the time.
Francesco Schettino denies charges including manslaughter and causing a shipwreck.
The ship struck rocks and capsized near the island of Giglio, off the coast of Tuscany.
An Italian judge recently lifted Francesco Schettino’s house arrest, but said he must not leave his hometown, near Naples, while the investigation continues.
Captain Francesco Schettino has said he is sorry for Costa Concordia disaster
“When there’s an accident, it is not just the ship that is identified or the company, the captain is identified and so it’s normal that I should apologize as a representative of this system,” he told Italy’s Canale 5 television.
Francesco Schettino said he blamed himself for being “distracted” but said he had not been on the bridge when the ship ran aground.
“At that moment, I went up to the deck and ordered the ship to be put on manual navigation and I didn’t have command, that’s to say being in charge of sailing the ship, that was the officer,” he said.
Following the accident there was speculation that the captain had sailed too close to the island because he was trying to show off his seamanship skills to a young woman on the ship’s bridge.
Francesco Schettino denied this, and also denied that the woman had been his lover.
When asked about the youngest passenger who died – a five-year-old girl – he could not answer and broke down.
In a letter published recently in Italy’s La Corriere della Sera newspaper, Francesco Schettino argued that he had saved many lives by steering the stricken vessel into shallow water.
In a phone call recorded during the rescue operation, a local port authority chief Gregorio de Falco can be heard chastising the captain and telling him to get back on board the ship to help stranded passengers.
Francesco Schettino was arrested shortly afterwards.
French Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) founder Jean-Claude Mas has been arrested at his home in Six-Fours-les-Plages, southern France, according to police.
In 2010, France banned PIP breast implants made with low-grade industrial silicone, amid fears they could rupture and leak.
Up to 400,000 women in 65 countries are believed to have been given implants.
Jean-Claude Mas, 72, remains at his home while police search it – as required by French law.
PIP owner is believed to have been detained as part of a judicial investigation started in December into manslaughter and involuntary injuries.
A second PIP executive, former chief financial officer Claude Couty, has also been arrested
Jean-Claude Mas has been under investigation since he revealed in a police interview last year that PIP ordered employees to hide the unauthorized silicone when inspectors visited its factory.
He told police that PIP had deceived European safety inspectors for 13 years.
But Jean-Claude Mas has insisted they posed no threat to health and attacked the French authorities for offering to pay for their removal because it put women through a “surgery risk”.
Jean-Claude Mas has been under investigation since he revealed in a police interview last year that PIP ordered employees to hide the unauthorized silicone when inspectors visited its factory
PIP owner also said he had “nothing” to say to women facing surgery for their removal and that victims had only filed complaints “to make money”.
Excerpts from Jean-Claude Mas’s interview have been re-examined by a French magistrate.
In France, 30,000 women have been advised to remove the implants and 2,700 have filed complaints against Jean-Claude Mas.
Women in 65 countries – mainly in Latin America and elsewhere in Europe – have received implants made by the company, which closed down in March 2010.
Health officials in Germany, the Czech Republic and Venezuela have advised women to have them removed.
The medical advice in the UK, where 40,000 are affected, is that there is no need for all the implants to be removed, only those causing problems such as pain or tenderness.
In England, the NHS will only replace them in exceptional circumstances, and the NHS in Wales said it would only do so when it was deemed medically necessary.
Women in Northern Ireland who received PIP implants for health reasons will have them replaced, but the NHS will only remove, not replace, those inserted for cosmetic reasons.
Scotland’s Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said concerned women who had them fitted privately would be offered advice and the option of removal if necessary. There are no records of PIP implants being used by the NHS.
The international police agency Interpol has said Jean-Claude Mas is wanted in Costa Rica over a drunk driving charge.
It said the “red notice” over an alleged incident in June 2010 was “totally unconnected” to PIP.
Fears are growing for the 29 people now listed as missing after the Costa Concordia crashed into rocks off Italy’s west coast on Friday night.
Emergency crews have worked through the night at the wreck of a stricken cruise ship.
Six people are known to have died in the disaster up to now.
Local coast guard chief Marco Brusco said there was just a “glimmer of hope” that survivors could be found.
The ship’s owners have blamed Captain Francesco Schettino for Friday’s crash, saying he changed course towards an island.
Captain Francesco Schettino, 52, has been detained on suspicion of manslaughter and a judge is due to decide shortly whether he should remain in custody.
Italy says it will declare a state of emergency over the incident, and provide funding to help avert any environmental disaster.
The Italian environment minister said liquid was leaking from the ship, but it was unclear if it was fuel.
Fears are growing for the 29 people now listed as missing after the Costa Concordia crashed into rocks off Italy's west coast on Friday night
Meanwhile, Italian officials have denied a newspaper report that a seventh body had been found overnight on the vessel.
Italian Coast Guard officials said the number of people believed to be missing had jumped to 29 from the previous estimate of 16, but gave no reason for the change.
The missing are thought to include four crew members, as well as passengers from the US, Germany, France and Italy.
On Monday, the Costa Concordia’s owners, Costa Cruises, said Captain Francesco Schettino hit the rocks because he deliberately steered the ship towards to Giglio Island.
Prosecutors also claim that Francesco Schettino was responsible for the disaster.
“The captain is in a very difficult position because we are sure enough that he abandoned the ship when many passengers were still waiting to be evacuated,” said prosecutor Francesco Verusio.
A transcript purportedly of conversations between the captain and the coastguard has emerged in the Italian media – apparently drawn from one of the ship’s black box recorders – which appears to corroborate the claims that the captain left the ship before all the passengers escaped.
Capt Francesco Schettino has denied wrongdoing and says the rocks were not on his charts. He has insisted that he and his crew were the last people to leave the vessel.
His lawyer, Bruno Leporatti, said his client was “overcome and wants to express his greatest condolences to the victims”, adding that the captain had carried out a dangerous manoeuvre that had actually saved lives.
Costa Concordia, carrying 4,200 passengers and crew, had its hull ripped through when it hit rocks late on Friday.
Some people were forced to swim for land as the angle of the ship made boarding lifeboats impossible.
German media have reported that 12 German passengers are still missing, and US officials have appealed for information about two Americans – Jerry Heil, 69, and his wife Barbara, 70, from White Bear Lake, Minnesota.
Six Italians, two French couples and a Peruvian are also reported to be unaccounted for.
Teams of specialist divers have been helping with the rescue mission, but they have been hampered by bad weather, which has been moving the ship in the water.
Saturnino Soria, father of Peruvian Erika Soria, who was working as a waitress on the ship, insisted that the search operation should continue.
“I haven’t received any precise information about her – nothing from yesterday or today – it seems the situation has become worse for my daughter,” he said.
Rodolfo Raiteri, head of the coastguard’s diving team, was quoted by news agency AFP as saying that conditions inside the vessel were “disastrous”.
“It’s very difficult. The corridors are cluttered and it’s hard for the divers to swim through,” he said.
But the local mayor voiced hope of finding more people alive.
“You never know in the labyrinth of that ship. An air pocket could have allowed people to survive a few days,” Sergio Ortelli was quoted by AFP as saying.
Meanwhile, the shipping newspaper Lloyd’s List said it had been able to trace the course of the Costa Concordia though information from satellites.
The paper issued a graphic comparing Friday’s sailing with an earlier sailing by the liner, suggesting that Friday’s route had deviated far from its usual course.
Worries are growing that the ship could cause an environmental disaster if it breaks up and sheds its fuel.
Costa Concordia had just left the port of Civitavecchia, north of Rome, carrying roughly 2,300 tons of fuel for a week-long Mediterranean cruise when it crashed.
The area where the ship capsized is a maritime park famous for its pristine waters, varied marine life and coral.
Italian Environment Minister Corrado Clini said there was evidence that liquid was leaking from the ship, but he could not confirm whether the fluid was fuel.
Corrado Clini said the government would declare a state of emergency to release extra funding to help avoid a fuel spill causing an environmental disaster.
Francesco Schettino, the captain of the doomed Costa Concordia cruise ship is quickly becoming Italy’s “most hated man”, with hundreds turning to Facebook to vent their anger against him.
Now, almost 1,000 people have “liked” the Facebook group “Francesco Schettino”comandante” Costa Crociere” to berate him – with many saying he “played with people’s lives”.
Also on Facebook, it emerged that the head of the ship’s restaurant’s sister had posted a comment, before the disaster, saying: “In a short period of time the Concordia ship will pass very close. A big greeting to my brother who finally get to have a holiday on landing in Savona.”
Patrizia Tivoli, sister of restaurant boss Antonello, posted the message at 9:08 p.m. on Friday. A few minutes later, the boat ran aground.
The revelations follow claims that Francesco Schettino had been drinking “with a beautiful woman” at the ship’s bar before he sailed into disaster.
Francesco Schettino, 52, was arrested on suspicion of multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship when the cruise liner ran aground after sustaining a 160 ft gash in the port-side hull.
Six people are now confirmed dead and 16 are still missing. The sixth person – a male passenger – was found dead wearing a life vest on the second deck of the ship. That area of the boat was not submerged.
One passenger has accused Captain Francesco Schettino of drinking in one of the ship’s bars on the night the vessel ran aground, before taking control after the crash.
Monique Maurek, 41, from the Netherlands, said: “What scandalized me most was when I saw the captain spending much of the evening before we hit the rocks drinking in the bar with a beautiful woman on his arm.
“Most people didn’t even have any idea of what the evacuation warning sound would be. It was only because some of us had already been on a cruise that we recognized that seven blasts of the horn was a signal to abandon ship.”
Francesco Schettino had been drinking “with a beautiful woman” at the ship's bar before he sailed into disaster
Phil Metcalf, whose daughter Rose was one of the last people off the ship, said she had revealed the captain allegedly abandoned ship in the early stages of the evacuation, leaving his staff onboard.
He said: “Since the captain had left there was nobody, so everybody was left to their own devices hence some of the chaos, so obviously the crew took it upon themselves and decided in the absence of the captain to organize and try and help people.”
Italian investigators are working on the theory that the $600 million vessel sailed close to the island of Giglio to greet an officer from the Italian merchant navy who was friendly with those on the Concordia.
Reports in Italy said that investigators had identified the man on shore and he would be questioned as part of the inquiry into the incident.
Last August Costa Concordia passed close to the island sounding its whistle – prompting the mayor to send a congratulatory email to the captain for providing such a “spectacle to tourists” and “fantastic entertainment”.
Prosecutors described Francesco Schettino’s handling of the giant craft as “inept” and he was forced to deny additional damaging claims that he left the ship to save himself, had been spotted in the bar and even raided the safe before leaving.
Francesco Schettino told maritime investigators that charts showed he was in water deep enough to navigate and that he had struck an unidentified rocky outcrop of the island.
Once the captain realized the extent of the damage he immediately tried to change route and head for the safety of Giglio harbour.
Yesterday, the chief executive of Italian owner blamed “human error” on the part of Captain Francesco Schettino for the grounding of the vessel.
Costa Crociere chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi told reporters the liner had passed all safety and technical tests in its 2011 evaluation.
Asked about the suggestion that the captain had abandoned ship, senior prosecutor Francesco Verusio said: “Unfortunately, I must confirm that circumstance.”
As an injured crewman and a Korean honeymoon couple were rescued yesterday, 48 hours after the vessel came to grief, it also emerged that:
■ Survivors were left to swim for their lives and shin down rope ladders during a terrifying “Titanic-like” escape. They told how women and children were barged out of the way by crewmen heading for the lifeboats.
■ Fears grew of an environmental disaster amid claims from the scene that fuel has started leaking from the liner.
■ Rescue divers continue to search submerged parts of the ship before bad weather sinks it fully. The death toll rose to six when a man wearing a life vest was found on the ship’s second deck
The crash has shocked all those who enjoy the multi-billion-pound cruise industry and believe they are holidaying in absolute safety.
Costa Concordia cruise ship was sailing little more than 300 yards from the rocky coast of Giglio when it should have been at least ten times that distance.
Captain Francesco Schettino insisted his charts and navigation system show he was in “safe water” and that the rocks he had hit were unmarked – a claim which amazed locals on Giglio who say the dangers were well known.
First Officer Ciro Ambrosio was also arrested and detained with Francesco Schettino at Porto Santo Stefano on the Italian mainland before being transferred to prison.
The Tuscan prosecutor said the ship had struck a reef on its port side causing it to take in an “enormous amount of water in a matter of minutes”. A huge piece of rock remained embedded in the hull.
Italian police are conducting two investigations – one into the route the captain took and one into the evacuation of the ship. The 117,000-ton Costa Concordia smashed into rocks two hours into a seven-day Mediterranean cruise as passengers were enjoying dinner at 9:30 p.m. on Friday.
francesco Schettino, who has worked with Costa Concordia for 11 years, called his mother Rosa in Naples at 5:00 a.m. and said: “There has been a tragedy but keep calm. I tried to save the passengers. I won’t be able to call you for a while but don’t worry.”
Francesco Schettino’ sister Giulia said: “We are keeping calm. Franco is a good captain and he has told the truth.”
There were also reports that Francesco Schettino had been dining with passengers when the accident happened – but the ship’s operating company, Costa Crociere, said he was on the bridge. Last night it was still unclear as to what had caused the stricken ship to capsize. It hit a rocky outlet known as Le Scole, which opened up the port-side hull.
Fifteen minutes after impact, Francesco Schettino gave the order to drop anchor in an attempt to turn the ship around and return as close as possible to Giglio harbour which by now Costa Concordia had passed.
As it carried out the emergency manoeuvre, it sped up the intake of water and led to the ship turning on to its side, finally coming to rest on a rocky shelf. There is also a theory that an electrical fault wiped out the ship’s navigational power and steering control.
Survivors vented their anger at the captain yesterday on a message board at their Rome hotel. It had been set up for therapeutic reasons to allow them to display their feelings and give thanks for their rescue.
Francesco Schettino will be held until next week when a judge will decide whether he should be released or formally arrested. If convicted, he faces a maximum 12 years in jail.
Francesco Schettino, the Italian captain of Costa Concordia cruise ship that ran aground killing three person and injuring more than 20 more was arrested late Saturday and is being investigated for manslaughter and abandoning ship, said a local prosecutor in Grosetto, Italy.
Francesco Schettino, had been earlier interviewed by investigators in Porto Santo Stefano about what happened when the 4,200-passenger Costa Concordia struck rocks in shallow water off Italy’s western coast, said officer Emilio Del Santo of the Coastal Authorities of Livorno.
Authorities were looking at why the ship didn’t hail a mayday during the accident near the Italian island of Giglio on Friday night, officials said.
Costa Concordia is owned by Genoa-based Costa Cruises.
“At the moment we can’t exclude that the ship had some kind of technical problem, and for this reason moved towards the coast in order to save the passengers, the crew and the ship. But they didn’t send a mayday. The ship got in contact with us once the evacuation procedures were already ongoing,” Emilio Del Santo said prior to the announcement of the arrest.
“Fear and panic are comprehensible in a ship long over 300 meters with over 4000 passengers,” he said.
“We can confirm that the ship has a breach on the hull of about 90 meters, and that the right side of it is completely under water.”
Francesco Schettino, the Italian captain of Costa Concordia cruise ship that ran aground killing three person and injuring more than 20 more was arrested late Saturday
The three persons dead were two French tourists and a crew member from Peru, Port authorities in Livorno said.
Giuseppe Orsina, a spokesman with the local civil protection agency, said 43 to 51 persons were missing, though authorities are reviewing passenger lists to confirm the exact figure.
“These people could be still on the island of Giglio, in private houses or in hospitals,” Giuseppe Orsina said.
The coast guard said 50 to 70 people could be missing.
One surviving crew member, Rosalyn Rincon, 30, of Blackpool, England, said she wanted to know why the cruise ship was sailing so close to shore. She described a harrowing grounding of the vessel, whose tilting and rising water evoked the film “Titanic”.
“I’m pretty much angry, and I want to know why we were so close to the coast,” said Rosalyn Rincon, who works as a dancer on the ship and was entertaining passengers by performing a trick inside a box with a magician when the accident occurred.
Rosalyn Rincon has sailed the itinerary the last three months.
“I’ve never thought something like this could happen,” she added.
Costa Concordia was 2.5 miles off route when it struck a rocky sandbar, according to the Italian Coast Guard. Local fishermen say the island coast of Giglio is known for its rocky sea floor.
Gianni Onorato, president of Costa Cruises, expressed “deep sorrow for this terrible tragedy,” but said the cruise line was unable to answer all the questions that authorities are now investigating.
“On the basis of the initial evidence – still preliminary – Costa Concordia, under the command of Master Francesco Schettino, was sailing its regularly scheduled itinerary from Civitavecchia to Savona, Italy, when the ship struck a submerged rock,” Gianni Onorato said in a statement before the announcement of the captain’s announcement.
“Captain Schettino, who was on the bridge at the time, immediately understood the severity of the situation and performed a maneuver intended to protect both guests and crew, and initiated security procedures to prepare for an eventual ship evacuation,” he continued.
“Unfortunately, that operation was complicated by a sudden tilting of the ship that made disembarkation difficult,” Gianni Onorato said.
Rescue teams worked through the night to evacuate more than 4,000 people from the Costa Concordia, owned by Genoa-based Costa Cruises, after it ran aground off of Italy’s western coast.
Authorities said earlier Saturday they believed everyone was accounted for, but that they did not have a definitive list of names.
The huge ship, which was lying on its side in shallow water Saturday evening, was carrying about 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members when it ran aground at about dinner time.
Costa Concordia, built in 2006, was on a Mediterranean cruise from Rome with stops in Savona, Marseille, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Cagliari and Palermo, according to the cruise line. It was unclear how far into the cruise the grounding occurred.
Most of the passengers on board were Italian, as well as some French and German citizens. CNN affiliate America Noticias, in Peru, said a group of 32 Peruvians were also onboard.
The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office was working with Italian authorities to identify British nationals on the cruise, a spokesman said.
Another Costa ship was involved in a deadly 2010 accident when the Costa Europa crashed into a pier in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh during stormy weather, killing three crew members.