Justice for Costa Concordia Victims?

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Judge Pietro Molino accepted a plea bargain Saturday in Italy with regard to the Costa Concordia shipwreck disaster that occurred last year. Five co-defendants were originally charged together, but now the ship’s captain, Franceso Schettino, is being prosecuted separately. In proceedings which began this week, Schettino is charged with manslaughter and abandoning ship. Although this seems like a victory for the families of the 32 people who died in this fatal accident, it is likely that two of the defendants will not serve any time in prison.

The Costa Concordia was carrying 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members when it crashed on January 13, 2012. Thirty-two people were killed and over 150 were injured when the ship hit rocks off the coast of Italy. There were additionally 62 major injuries when the ship was being evacuated, which include blindness, partial paralysis, and amputation. As a result of the magnitude of this disaster, the prosecutor presented the court with a list of approximately 350 witnesses.

Costa Cruises’ emergency manager, Roberto Ferrarini, was sentenced to two years and 10 months in prison. Similarly hotel director Manrico Giampedroni received two years and 6 months. Ciro Ambrosio, the captain’s first mate, was sentenced to one year and 11 months, the third officer Silvia Coronica received 18 months, while a helmsman got 20 months. Ambriosio, Coronica, and the helmsman were additionally convicted of maritime disaster and causing a shipwreck. These five convictions are not sitting well with many of the victims and their families.

In 90 days the court’s full opinion will be released, but many are not satisfied with the result. Under Italian law in cases of manslaughter, sentences less than two years do not have to necessarily be served in prison, and the sentences are being called “too lenient.” Massimiliano Gabrielli compared the sentences to that of someone convicted for illegal construction. The prosecutor defended the plea agreement with the justification that all five convicted are testifying for the prosecution at Schettino’s trial.

Schettino asked for a plea of three years and five months in prison–do you think this should be accepted by the prosecution? Do you think that the convictions and sentences for the five are justifiable?

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One comment

  1. According to the Huffington Post, Schettino’s lawyers expect the prosecution to reject the plea bargain. This is, not surprisingly, accurate; Prosecutor Francesco Verusio already told reporters that he has opposed it because of the “seriousness of the conduct of the accused.” Even though deals have been worked out for the other defendants, the trial against the captain is expected to run into 2014. The prosecutors are alleging that Schettino knowingly and deliberately led the Costa Concordia dangerously close to the rocky coast. “Many survivors who jumped into the sea and swam to shore have recalled their shock and amazement that Schettino was already there while others were still on the boat.” If the testimony of survivors establishes that Schettino did indeed abandon ship and leave his innocent passengers on board to fend for themselves, how could the prosecution accept this shameful excuse for a plea bargain? Since the captain chose not to go down with his ship, it is only right that he goes down in court.


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