Reuters is reporting that an Italian court has sentenced five of the navigational officers who were on duty on Costa Concordia separate jail sentences that range from 18 to 34 months.Only the captain, Francesco Schettino, is still on trial.
Oddly enough – these sentences will most likely not result in any actual jail time. The charges are for multiple manslaughter, negligence and shipwreck, but because were reached through plea bargains to avoid a lengthy trial, Italian judicial sources say that sentences under two years will likely be suspended, and the longer sentences may be appealed or replaced with community service.
Schettino was accused of abandoning ship before all crew and passengers had been rescued. He has asked repeatedly for a plea bargain agreement against charges of manslaughter and causing the loss of his ship. His first offer, to serve three years and four months in jail, was rejected in May, so now he is offering three years and five months.
His lawyers argue that he prevented an even worse disaster by steering the 290 meter (950 foot) vessel into shallow waters after the impact and that he was thrown overboard due to the angle of the leaning ship.
"We expect that right from the first we will finally get to the bottom of things and finally understand what really happened that night," one of his lawyers said. "He has never shied away from his responsibilities," one defense lawyer told reporters. "(But) he was the captain, it is right that for certain things he should be the point of reference. But it is not right to blame him for responsibilities that he did not have," he added.
The ship remains toppled over and half-submerged in the water just off shore of Giglio, and is in danger of slipping from its position to much deeper water. Salvagers said they hoped to get the vessel upright in September. Lately the ship has been collapsing under its own weight and senior salvage master Nicholas Sloane said "It's almost like a body with a spinal injury, you need to support the neck as she rolls over."
The Woman on the Bridge
Prosecutors plan to call Domnica Cemortan, a young Moldovanwoman who was at the time a friend of Schettino and was on the bridge ofConcordia when the collision occurred. "I hope the truth will come out andthe guilty are found responsible for this accident," Ms Cemortan told reportersoutside the court. "I'm a passenger like the others."
But Daniele Bocciolini, a lawyer representing victims, saidlast week he hoped investigations would show that the trial should be widenedto include all those responsible.