Costa Concordia Cruise Ship Captain Guilty Of Manslaughter

The Jan. 2012 crash of the Costa Concordia took the lives of 32 people. Today, the ship's captain was found guilty of multiple counts of manslaughter.

The Jan. 2012 crash of the Costa Concordia took the lives of 32 people. Today, the ship’s captain was found guilty of multiple counts of manslaughter.

More than three years after Carnival’s Costa Concordia cruise ship crashed near the Tuscan island of Giglio, ultimately resulting in the deaths of 32 people, the captain of that ship has been found guilty of manslaughter by an Italian court.

CNN reports that the 19-month trial of Captain Francesco Schettino has concluded with a three-judge panel deciding he is to blame for the tragic incident.

In addition to the manslaughter charges, the captain was accused of causing a maritime disaster and abandoning ship. The 52-year-old Schettino now faces 16 years in prison.

During the trial, prosecutors had labeled the captain a coward who fled the ship, which held around 4,200 passengers and crew members at the time of the crash.

The captain admitted during the trial that he’d brought the ship so close to Giglio to impress the passengers. His defense team argued that the ship’s helmsman did not understand English, even though he was required to speak the language, and didn’t heed the captain’s orders to turn the ship away from the island. That helmsman was subpoenaed to testify but could not be compelled to do so as his last known address was in Indonesia.

In defending the captain against charges that he fled the ship before hundreds of passengers, his lawyers reportedly demonstrated that the angle of the tilting ship caused Schettino to fall from the Costa Concordia and into a lifeboat. Additionally, even though the captain made it to shore before passengers, he claims to have continued to direct the ship’s evacuation from the shore.

Schettino’s lawyers also argued that the captain was not guilty of manslaughter as no one was killed in the impact, and that he was not negligent in waiting an hour to evacuate the ship.

“Stop for a minute to consider what would have happened if he had abandoned ship 1 kilometer from shore,” his attorney contended. “There could be 4,500 dead, not 32.”

While the trial was going on, Schettino had told the court he had spent the last three years “in a media meat grinder,” and that “All the responsibility has been loaded on to me with no respect for the truth or for the memory of the victims.”