Costa Concordia's Captain Appeals Conviction

Image courtesy Roberto Vongher

Published Apr 28, 2016 8:59 PM by The Maritime Executive

The captain of the wrecked cruise ship Costa Concordia, Francesco Schettino, has appealed a court decision convicting him of multiple manslaughter and other charges for his part in the fatal 2012 disaster. 

In February of last year, Schettino was sentenced to 16 years in jail. His defense argues that the court was mistaken in charging him with primary responsibility for the wreck, which resulted in the deaths of 32 people. 

Legal counsel Saverio Senese suggested that there were other factors leading to the accident, "and we hope to be able to show that." Senese pointed to shipowner Costa Crociere, the actions of the Concordia's helmsman, and to coast guard authorities for partial responsibility.

"We will ask that the responsibility of all the protagonists in this affair be redefined, not just that of our client," said Donato Laino, another member of Schettino's legal team. 

At the same time, the prosecution intends to ask the court to go in the other direction, and to increase Schettino's sentence to 27 years' imprisonment. His current sentence includes 10 years for manslaughter, five years for causing the disaster and the costly salvage operation that followed, and one year for abandoning ship before his passengers. 

The prosecution said Thursday that the partial culpability of any other parties was beyond the scope of the captain's trial. "It also lies with others, but that does not clear Schettino," said prosecutor Alessandro Leonizzi. 

Five other crewmembers entered plea bargains and were sentenced in connection with the disaster, with shorter terms in the range of two to three years. 

So far, owner Costa Crociere has only received a civil penalty in the amount of $8 million, for survivor compensation. This came to about $34,000 per individual, and lawyers for survivors groups suggested that they intend to seek additional damages.