€1m cap on Costa Concordia fine: 'It hardly seems a lot given the magnitude of the disaster'

 

Milan

Costa Cruises, the company whose Concordia cruise liner capsized in January last year with the loss of 32 lives, has made a deal with an Italian court that will limit its criminal liability for a fine of just €1 million.

The plea bargain payment, which curtails the cruise operator's criminal culpability for the disaster, is a set tariff. It means Costa Cruises will not face any more criminal charges and will now aim to participate in the forthcoming trial as an injured party.

"It is a balanced solution," the company's lawyer, Marco De Luca, told reporters today in Grosseto in Tuscany, where the court is based.

Critics of the company hit out at the size of the fine. "It is a regulated amount, but still, it hardly seems a lot given the magnitude of the disaster the company was involved in," said Giuliano Leuzzi, a lawyer for the national consumer group Codacons, which is leading a class action against the cruise operator.

Mr Leuzzi noted that despite the company curtailing its criminal responsibility with yesterday's plea bargain, one of its senior executives, marine operations director Roberto Ferrarini, is among the six suspects who may stand trial when the preliminary proceedings courts finally decides who is to be indicted in connection with the disaster.

"This shows in what a confused way this whole process has been handled by the court in Grosseto," he said.

At pre-trial hearings, an expert report suggested that Mr Ferrarini, the company's crisis management chief, appeared "not to have the pulse of the conditions of the ship" after the accident occurred. It added: "…when the captain told him that three sections of the vessel were flooded, he should have immediately told the captain to declare a general emergency and abandon ship". Mr Ferrarini and the company have blamed the ship's crew for failing to keep them fully informed of conditions onboard, after the vessel struck rocks off the shore of Giglio on 13 January 2012.

Some marine safety experts have said that if it were not for the considerable delay in abandoning ship, the loss of life would have been very much lower.

The final stages in this process of deciding on indictments will begin on Monday in the same court. The wrecked liner's captain, Francesco Schettino, who has been widely blamed for causing the tragedy, will be sent to trial for multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship before his passengers if the judge accepts the prosecution's requests. Four other crew members may also be indicted.

Although Costa Cruises has paid only €1 million in order to limit its criminal liability, the civil costs will be very much higher.

In July last year, the family of the Costa Concordia disaster's youngest victim, 5-year-old Dayana Arlotti, received a seven-figure payment from the liner's owner; others were expected to follow.

Costa Cruises had already offered a basic €11,000 compensation payment to Cost Concordia survivors who were not injured or bereaved by the disaster.

However, Codacons, advised passengers to reject the offer and instead called for a €125,000 minimum for each passenger, saying that potential psychological trauma had to be taken into account.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links