Former Costa Concordia captain found guilty for shipwreck

ROME - A panel of judges Wednesday found former Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino guilty for the shipwreck of the pleasure liner and sentenced him to 16 years and one month in prison.

Prosecutors had asked for a 26 year sentence for Schettino for the shipwreck in which 32 passengers lost their lives.

The Concordia hit rocks off Tuscany in 2012 when a navigation stunt went wrong and the skipper fled on a lifeboat to save his own life as his passengers drowned. 

The judges also banned Schettino from commanding a ship for five years and banned him from holding public office indefinitely.

As he awaited judgement, Schettino said that he "also died" when the pleasure liner hit rocks off Tuscany's Giglio Island on Jan. 13, 2012.

"I have been accused of lack of sensitivity to the victims - covering one's head with ashes is a way of showing one's feelings," a choice, "that I didn't make, pain should not be shown to be manipulated" he told the Grosseto Tribunal.

Schettino went on to talk about "moments of pain that I shared with the shipwrecked at my home," but then burst into tears and stopped talking.

It was not immediately clear why Schettino received less than the sentence the prosecution demanded but earlier his defense lawyer, Domenico Pepe, argued in his summing up that the skipper had suffered greatly already and become a scapegoat.

"The worst victim of this affair is the gentleman I defend, Francesco Schettino, on whom one wants to inflict a sentence that seems like a life term, because that is in practice what has been asked for this man," said Pepe.

"Perhaps it has not been taken into account how he has undergone everything in these three years, he has suffered like no other mortal. He has been mortified, offended, insulted in court, persecuted by the press and the police,” he said.

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