Grosseto – AAP An Italian court has sentenced Francesco Schettino, the captain of the ill-fated Costa Concordia, to 16 years and one month in prison for his role in the shipwreck that claimed 32 lives.
Schettino, 54, was sentenced on Wednesday at the end of a 19-month trial, three years after the January 2012 disaster, which occurred after the huge cruise ship hit rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio.
He wasn’t present when the judge read out the sentence on Wednesday night in a Grosseto theatre.
His conviction is subject to appeal.
The disgraced skipper, who had earlier tearfully appealed to the court for mercy, had been charged with manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship with passengers and crew still on board.
It was not immediately clear which of the various counts he was convicted on.
Prosecutors had sought a total sentence of 26 years and three months.
Schettino was accused during the trial of recklessly steering the giant cruise ship onto the rocks with more than 4000 people on board, negligently delaying an order to abandon ship and then leaving the ship himself in a cowardly and unprofessional manner.
In his defence, Schettino said his crew was to blame for the collision, that the delayed evacuation might have saved lives and insisted he fell off the tilting boat rather than fleeing in fear.
Schettino had also claimed he was being made a scapegoat for the disaster and had been the victim of a media witch-hunt.