Five convicted for Costa Concordia shipwreck

Italian court jails them on charges of multiple manslaughter and negligence in disaster that killed 32 last year.

    An Italian court has convicted five officers from the Costa Concordia for their role in the cruise ship disaster in which 32 people died, leaving the captain, Francesco Schettino, as the only person still on trial.

    The court agreed on Saturday to plea bargains for the five, who got sentences of between 18 months and two years 10 months for charges of multiple manslaughter, negligence and shipwreck, in exchange for pleading guilty and avoiding a lengthy trial.

    The five include Roberto Ferrarini, the director of ship owner Costa Crociere's crisis unit, and Jacob Rusli Bin, the luxury liner's Indonesian helmsman, as well Captain Francesco Schettino's deputy and two other crew members.

    None are likely to go to jail as the sentences under two years are suspended, and the longer sentences may be appealed or replaced with community service, judicial sources said.

    All five were employed by the Costa Crociere company that operated the Costa Concordia.

    The ship captain, who is accused of multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship, is currently the only one standing trial for the deadly accident off Giglio island in Tuscany.

    The Concordia, on a week-long Mediterranean cruise, speared a jagged granite reef when, prosecutors allege, Schettino steered the ship too close to Giglio's rocky shores as a favour to a crewman whose relatives live on the island.

    If found guilty, he faces up to 20 years in prison. Schettino has denied the charges and insisted that the rock was not in nautical maps.

    The reef sliced a 70-metre-long (230-foot) gash in the hull. Seawater rushed in, causing the ship to rapidly lean to one side until it capsised, then drifted to a rocky stretch of seabed just outside the island's tiny port.

    Survivors have described a delayed and confused evacuation. The bodies of two victims were never found, but they were declared dead after a long search.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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