Francesco Schettino, who captained the ill-fated cruiseship Costa Concordia that sank in 2012, has been found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Although prosecutors sought a 26 year and three month jail term, Schettino ultimately received 10 years for multiple manslaughter, five for causing the shipwreck and another year for abandoning his passengers.
The Italian national was not present in court when judge Giovanni Puliatti read out the verdict. He is expected to appeal the verdict and has argued that he is being scapegoated. Earlier in the trial, Schettino is reported to have made a statement to the judge saying: "All the responsibility has been loaded on to me with no respect for the truth or for the memory of the victims." he further claimed to have spent the past three years "in a media meat grinder".
His legal team put forward the case that the incident was due to a collective failure on the part of the vessel's crew and that others should be apportioned part of the blame. Although other individuals linked to the incident were arrested and have been sentenced, Schettino's is the most severe sentence.
Cabin service director Manrico Giampedroni received a sentence of two and a half years for his actions during the chaotic evacuation process, while first officer Ciro Ambrosio, helmsman Jacob Rusli Bin and third officer Silvia Coronica each receive close to two years for their actions. It is noteworthy that Costa Cruises fleet crisis co-ordinator Roberto Ferrarini, who was on shore at the time of the incident, was sentenced to two years 10 months for delaying an adequate response to the disaster by downplaying the extent of the damage.
The vessel ran aground off the coast of Giglio island in Tuscany and sank, resulting in the 32 deaths - a mix of passengers and crew. Schettino, whose early efforts at a plea bargain were rejected, maintains that he took the vessel so close to the shore for commercial reasons: to please passengers and those on shore.