€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
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones