The captain of the Costa Concordia, the large cruise ship that crashed in January 2012 off Isola del Giglio, Italy, causing the deaths of 32 people, attended a hearing today about the disaster in an Italian court. Francesco Schettino is facing a slew of charges, including multiple counts of manslaughter. He is also charged with abandoning ship while passengers were still on board and causing a disaster. If Schettino is successfully convicted of these charges, he could face over 2,500 years in prison.
Schettino has been widely condemned since the disaster occurred. Many have claimed that in an act of reckless showmanship, the captain tried to sail by the small island of Giglio to salute the people on land. Clearly, he failed, and instead ran the ship into a reef, causing it to keel over and partially sink. What’s more, the captain allegedly abandoned ship when he should have been on board helping the hundreds of passengers who remained on the vessel. (Schettino reputation wasn’t helped when the Italian media published a transcript of the captain’s conversation with the Italian Coast Guard soon after the ship struck the reef.)
Schettino has publicly apologized for the accident and has even accepted some of the responsibility for the disaster, but he insists that his actions saved hundreds of lives. Had he not managed to steer the ship closer to the shore, he claims, it might have went down in deeper waters, causing many more passengers to drown.
As more details from the trial emerge, we’ll be sure to keep our readers posted, so come back often for more coverage of the court proceedings. For a little background on the disaster, check out our article on cruise ship safety in light of the Costa Concordia disaster.