5 convicted for cruise wreck; captain to be tried separately in Italian court
GROSSETO, Italy — Five employees of an Italian cruise company were convicted Saturday of manslaughter in the Costa Concordia shipwreck that killed 32 people, receiving sentences of less than three years that lawyers for victims and survivors criticized as too lenient.
The guilty verdicts for multiple manslaughter and negligence were the first reached in the sinking of the cruise liner carrying more than 4,000 crew and passengers near the Tuscan shore in January 2012.
The ship's captain, the only remaining defendant, was denied a plea bargain and is being tried separately. He faces up to 20 years if convicted of manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and abandoning the ship.
On Saturday, lawyers representing the 32 victims of the shipwreck said the sentences of the plea bargain — a fraction of what is usually handed down for manslaughter — were inadequate given the gravity of the disaster.
‘‘It seems like a sentence for illegal construction,” said lawyer Massimiliano Gabrielli. “It's an embarrassment.”
Another lawyer for victims, Daniele Bocciolini, called the sentences ‘‘insufficient” and questioned the prosecutors' hypothesis placing the lion's share of the blame on Capt. Francesco Schettino.
The five employees of the Costa Crociere SpA cruise company were charged for their respective roles in the nautical maneuver that put the ship in peril, evacuation and response to the emergency.
The longest sentence went to the company's crisis coordinator, who was sentenced to two years and 10 months. Concordia's hotel director was sentenced to two years and six months, while two bridge officers and a helmsman got sentences ranging from one year and eight months to one year and 11 months.
The bridge officials and helmsman were also convicted of a charge of causing a shipwreck, in addition to multiple manslaughter and negligence.
The court's reasoning for its decision will be released within 90 days, as is standard in Italy.
Prosecutors accused the crisis coordinator, who wasn't aboard the ship, of downplaying the severity of the emergency and delaying adequate response, while the hotel director was charged for his role in the evacuation, described by passengers as chaotic.
The helmsman was blamed for steering the ship in the wrong direction after Schettino ordered a corrective maneuver.
Prosecutor Francesco Verusio said the convictions confirmed investigators' version of events.
‘‘I don't think there are any more doubts about the responsibility that falls above all on the shoulders of Schettino,” Verusio said.
Schettino is charged with manslaughter for causing the shipwreck off the Tuscan island of Giglio and abandoning the vessel with thousands aboard. That trial opened this weekand was continued after two hearings until the end of September.
The Concordia, on a week-long Mediterranean cruise, speared a jagged granite reef when, prosecutors allege, Schettino steered the ship too close to Giglio's rocky shores as a favor to a crewman whose relatives live on the island. Schettino has denied the charges and insisted that the rock was not in nautical maps.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Scientists snatch giant opportunity
- Islamic State releases video showing execution of British aid worker
- Russian gas disruptions ‘test’ Poland
- Afghan election losers target likely victor
- Snowden could visit Swiss, help spy inquiry
- Poll: ‘No’ leads ‘yes’ in a close Scotland vote on independence from United Kingdom
- 3 troops killed in Taliban strike in Afghanistan