Four Costa Concordia crew members and a company official were sentenced to jail in Italy on Saturday for their part in the 2012 cruise ship disaster that killed 32 people, leaving only Captain Francesco Schettino still on trial.
The five received sentences of between 18 and 34 months for multiple manslaughter, negligence and shipwreck – relatively short punishments for the crimes, in exchange for pleading guilty.
None of the five are likely to be jailed as the sentences of under two years were suspended and the longer ones may be appealed or replaced with community service, judicial sources said.
“What will the families of the victims think? This is truly disappointing,” said Daniele Bocciolini, a lawyer for the victims. “Schettino remains the only one on trial, but not the only one at fault, in my opinion,” he told SkyTG24.
Schettino, 52, remains on trial for manslaughter and causing the loss of his ship which struck a rock off the Tuscan island of Giglio in January 2012, causing a chaotic evacuation of more than 4,000 passengers and crew. He is also seeking plea bargain to reduce a possible jail sentence.
The crisis coordinator for vessel owner Costa Cruises, Roberto Ferrarini, was given the lengthiest sentence, two years, 10 months, followed by cabin services manager Manrico Giampedroni who was given two-and-a-half years.
On Wednesday, Schettino’s lawyers offered to accept a sentence of three years, five months in return for a guilty plea. A previous offer to serve three years, four months was rejected in May and he risks a much heftier sentence if no plea bargain is agreed. Hearings resume in September.
The captain is accused of abandoning ship before all crew and passengers had been rescued. A coastguard’s angry phone order to him – “Get back on board, damn it!” – became a catch phrase in Italy after the accident.
His lawyers argue that he prevented a worse disaster by steering the 290-metre (950-ft) vessel into shallow waters after the impact, and that he was thrown overboard due to the angle of the leaning ship, which still lies rusting off the picturesque island.
(Reporting by Silvia Ognibene; Writing by Naomi O’Leary; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)