Costa Shipwreck Manslaughter Pleas Lead to Jail Terms for Five

An Italian judge accepted plea bargains for five defendants in the Costa Concordia case, convicting them of manslaughter and negligence, according to a representative for victims of last year’s shipwreck.

Roberto Ferrarini, head of Costa Crociere SpA’s crisis unit at the time, and Manrico Giampedroni, the ship’s hotel director, were sentenced to two years and 10 months and to two years and six months, respectively, according to Massimiliano Gabrielli, who represents members of a group called Justice for the Concordia and attended the sentencing today. No fines were imposed on the defendants, he said by phone.

Calls to the court in the Tuscan town of Grosseto outside normal office hours weren’t answered. The ship rammed into rocks off Italy’s western coast on Jan. 13, 2012, killing 32 people. Costa Crociere, based in Genoa, Italy, is a unit of Miami-based Carnival Corp., the world’s biggest cruise operator.

Captain Francesco Schettino is being tried for manslaughter and abandoning the ship while many of the 4,200 passengers and crew were still on board. His request for a plea bargain was rejected by prosecutors, La Repubblica reported on July 17. The Costa Concordia still lies on its side near the island of Giglio as a removal plan has fallen behind schedule.

“Today’s sentences would be fair for illegal building, not for multiple homicide,” Gabrielli said, adding that Justice for the Concordia will appeal the decision. “With their technical expertise, they had to be aware. The prosecutors’ goal is having Schettino as a scapegoat.”

The ship’s first officer, Ciro Ambrosio, was sentenced to one year and 11 months. Helmsman Jacob Rusli Bin received one year and eight months, while Third Officer Silvia Coronica received one year and six months, according to Gabrielli.

Costa Crociere agreed in April to pay a 1 million-euro ($1.31 million) fine for violations of the Italian administrative responsibility law. Costa Crociere, which remains a plaintiff in the trial, settled claims with more than 80 percent of passengers as of May 14. The plea bargains don’t put the innocence of its staff in doubt, the company said in a statement that day.

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