The Slatest

Costa Concordia Captain Sentenced to 16 Years for Fatal Shipwreck Off Italian Coast

The cruise ship Costa Concordia off the shore of the island of Giglio, on January 14, 2012.

Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images

Before the trial of Italian captain Francesco Schettino even began for his role in the fatal shipwreck of the Costa Concordia, one point had already been decided: Schettino is no hero. A three-judge panel in Italy went even further than Schettino’s nickname “Captain Coward” in its ruling on Wednesday, finding the man at the helm of the cruise ship criminally guilty of manslaughter for the 2012 wreck that killed 32 people and sentencing him to 16 years in prison.

The verdict brings to a close a 19-month trial during which Schettino was branded a “reckless idiot” by prosecutors for steering the ship too close to shore off the Italian coast where it ran aground and sank. Schettino was branded a national disgrace in Italy almost immediately after the Concordia went down, in part, because he evacuated the sinking ship before all of the 4,200 passengers were rescued. “While Schettino insisted in court that he had slipped and fallen into the safety of the lifeboat, that claim was thoroughly discredited by prosecutors,” according to the Guardian.

Here’s more on “Captain Coward” via the Guardian:

On the charge of manslaughter – the most serious one against him – the case turned not on the accident itself, but on Schettino’s decision to delay the order of evacuation for more than an hour. Lawyers for the state said every passenger and crew member on board could have survived if Schettino had immediately ordered an evacuation. Instead, over months of testimony, the court heard how the captain initially told passengers and officials on land that the ship, which went dark after the crash, had a power outage and was not in peril… The ship ran aground just 15 minutes after Schettino ordered a risky pass by the Tuscan island of Giglio. The captain denied he made the order to impress his lover at the time, a Moldovan dancer who was with him on the ship’s bridge and who was forced to admit in court that she had been having an affair with him.

Prosecutors pushed for a 26-year prison term, but received 10 years for multiple manslaughter, five years for causing the wreck, and one more for abandoning the passengers on the ship. Schettino said he was being unfairly blamed for the accident and is expected to appeal.