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article imageCaptain Schettino of ill-fated Costa Concordia awaits his fate

By Marcus Hondro     Feb 10, 2015 in World
The fate of the captain of the ill-fated cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, is now in the hands of the trial's three judges. The closing arguments have been made and Francesco Schettino will soon know how much time he will spend in jail.
Schettino: Multiple charges
The trial, in a makeshift auditorium/courtroom in Grosetto, Italy, has seen the prosecution and defense make their closing arguments. Schettino is charged with causing a shipwreck, manslaughter and abandoning his ship in the disaster that saw 32 people die on Jan. 13, 2012.
His defense team asked the charges of manslaughter and abandoning his ship be dropped — he claims he accidentally fell into a lifeboat as the Costa Concordia was listing over — and that the charge of causing a shipwreck be diminished.
The prosecution opposes a reduction in charges, saying his folly in taking the 114,500 tonnes ship near the island of Giglio in the Tuscan Sea, going off course to perform a ceremonial "salute" to a friend on Giglio, was dangerous and reckless. They also blame him for making the disaster worse by reacting to it poorly and said he intentionally got into a lifeboat while many were still on the ship.
"The captain's duty to abandon ship last isn't just an obligation dictated by ancient maritime tradition," the prosecution said in closing. "But also a legal obligation designed to minimize injuries."
Costa Concordia: towed to Genoa
There were over 4,200 passengers and crew onboard when the luxury liner hit a reef that tore a massive hole in the hull. Schettino is alleged to have delayed giving the abandon ship signal for more than an hour after the accident, creating a more dangerous evacuation. His claim is that he actually saved lives and any delays were not entirely his fault, placing much of the blame upon his helmsman.
Four other ship's officers and an employee of owner Costa Cruises who worked in their emergency center were given plea bargains and light sentences but the prosecution is asking that the 54-year-old Schettino get 26 years. The defense has sought no more than five years.
The ship sat, listed over, 300 metres from Giglio for two-and-a-half years. The tanks were emptied of oil and the ship of debris by Titan Salvage of the U .S. and Microperi of Italy. The two companies built a series of pontoons under the ship and raised her, in essence refloating the cruise liner.
Last July they successfully towed the Costa Concordia to the port of Genoa where it is being dismantled. It is considered to be one of the greatest maritime disasters in modern history.
The trial has been ongoing since July of 2013. At first many watched from the spectators areas but now, while some surviving passengers still turn up, most in attendance are media. The judges could rule at any time.
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