The captain of the cruise ship Costa Concordia which sank off the Italian island of Gigilo in 2012 killing 32 people has been sentenced to 16 years in jail for manslaughter.
Francesco Schettino, dubbed ‘Captain Coward’ after he fled the ship before the 4,200 passengers were safely ashore, was handed the sentence in Grosseto, Tuscany.
The 54-year-old was given ten years for manslaughter, five for causing a shipwreck, one for abandoning ship, and a further month for giving false information to port authorities.
It could have been worst for Schettino as prosecutors had asked for a prison sentence of 26 years.
On Wednesday, before the three-judge panel began deliberations, Captain Schettino addressed the court, saying his “head was sacrificed” as a scapegoat to safeguard economic interests.
“That day of the shipwreck I also died,” he said, before breaking into tears.
Captain Schettino wasn’t present when one of the three judges read out the verdict after eight hours of deliberations.
The judges also ordered Schettino to pay damages to the victims jointly with Costa Crociere. They ruled that many of the hundreds of survivors who were represented in court will be paid compensation damages for up to €30,000 (Rs 21 lakh) each, less than a third of the sums requested.
The island of Giglio, where the ship ran aground, was also awarded €300,000 (Rs 2.12 crore) in compensation for the damage suffered.
The shipwreck occurred on the night of January13, 2012, when the cruise liner was steered too close to the island and smashed into a reef. The court determined that Capt. Schettino changed the course of the ship to perform a salute to the island, a risky move supposed to offer a spectacle for passengers and inhabitants of Giglio.