Costa Concordia trial: Captain Francesco Schettino may never serve 16-year jail sentence as lawyers prepare appeals

'We've pointed out the absurdity of this trial from the beginning. He should be punished, but he has been made a scapegoat,' claim defence team

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The Independent Online

Francesco Schettino, who piloted his vast cruise ship “like a Ferrari”, will not see a prison cell for years, if ever, while lawyers wrangle over two appeals to his 16-year sentence.

After being convicted of multiple manslaughter charges (six months for each of the 32 people who died when he steered the Costa Concordia too close to Giglio Island in January 2012, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his passengers), Schettino was today safely back in his home near the idyllic coastal town of Sorrento, a free man.

TV cameras and reporters gathered outside his house or milled around Sorrento hoping for the former captain to make an injudicious foray into town. But since unfortunate photos emerged during the 19-month trial of him travelling in speedboats, Schettino – now a hate figure at home and abroad –  has taken his lawyers’ advice and adopted a low profile.

 

Since crying in court ahead of Wednesday’s verdict, he has kept quiet, although he was quoted as saying: “I will fight for ever to prove I did not abandon the Costa Concordia.” His lawyer, Domenico Pepe, said he expected his client’s appeal to begin within a year.

After the verdict, Mr Pepe described the 16-year sentence as “excessive and inappropriate”, but also a boon, given that it was 10 years less than the prosecution had requested.

Codacons, the national consumer group that took a class action against the Concordia’s operator, Costa Cruises, says the importance of technical defects in the vessel has been understated. This is denied.

It also says that some of the senior crew, who received non-custodial sentences after plea bargains, should have been on trial, too.

Giuliano Leuzzi, Codacons’ chief lawyer, told The Independent: “We’ve pointed out the absurdity of this trial from the beginning. Schettino should be punished, but he has been made a scapegoat.”

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