Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Five convicted over Italy shipwreck

Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino is being tried separately (AP)

An Italian court has accepted plea bargains for five Costa Crociere employees over the shipwreck that killed 32 crew and passengers, convicting all of multiple manslaughter and negligence.

The court in Grosseto handed down the highest sentence to the crisis co-ordinator for Costa Crociere, Roberto Ferranini, who was sentenced to two years and 10 months in jail.

The ship's hotel director was sentenced to two years and six months while two bridge officers and a helmsman got sentences ranging from one year and eight months to one year and 11 months.

The plea bargains were handled separately from the trial of Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino, who is charged with manslaughter for causing the January 2012 shipwreck off the Tuscan island of Giglio and abandoning the vessel with thousands aboard.

The Concordia, on a week-long Mediterranean cruise, speared a jagged granite reef when, prosecutors allege, Schettino steered the ship too close to Giglio's rocky shores as a favour to a crewman whose relatives live on the island.

If found guilty, he faces up to 20 years in prison. Schettino has denied the charges and insisted that the rock was not on nautical maps.

The reef sliced a 70-metre-long gash in the hull. Seawater rushed in, causing the ship to rapidly lean to one side until it capsized, then drifted to a rocky stretch of seabed just outside the island's tiny port.

Survivors have described a delayed and confused evacuation. The bodies of two victims were never found but they were declared dead after a long search.

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