Capt. Coward loses Italian court appeal
Florence, May 31 – Disgraced former Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino lost his court appeal on Tuesday to have his case dismissed after causing the 2012 shipwreck that caused the death of 33 people of Tuscany’s Giglio Island.
Schettino in January 2015 was finally found guilty and handed a 16-year prison sentence in his first trial. Disgruntled Prosecutors had asked for 26 years, saying he should be found guilty of multiple manslaughter, abandoning ship and other criminal charges.
Schettino, who has yet to serve any of his prison sentence, was asking to be acquitted, with his defense lawyers arguing the disaster was the collective responsibility of the ship’s crew.
During the appeal, Schettino’s legal team blamed the ship’s Indonesian helmsman, Jacob Rusli Bin, in causing what was Italy’s biggest shipwreck during peacetime.
Schettino also pointed his finger to organizational failures involving the Italian Coastguard and the ship’s owner, Costa Cruises.
The former skipper was in charge of the 290m-long cruise liner with more than 4,000 passengers and crew on board when it hit the rocks off Giglio island, ripping the ship’s port side and slowly capsizing. The former commander has been nicknamed ‘captain coward’ in the media for abandoning ship before all his passengers were properly evacuated.
Hundreds of passengers were injured, and Concordia also took the life of a Spanish diver during the salvage operation, taking the total death toll to 33.
Since then, the captain has always maintained his innocence and claimed to have been made a scapegoat for the accident. Last year, he published a controversial book entitled ‘The Sunken Truths’ which contained his version of events.
As Schettino claimed his innocence prosecutors were urging the appeal judges to hand him a more severe sentence of 27 years.
During an earlier hearing prosecutor Alessandro Leopizzi told judges Schettino had a “titanic responsibility” for what happened.
“The shipwreck was also caused by others but that does not excuse the captain’s responsibility,” Ansa reported Leopizzi as saying.
Leopizzi added that Schettino’s behaviour in the run up to and aftermath of the incident warrants “exemplary punishment”.