Concordia captain's defence team asks for mercy if convicted
GROSSETO, Italy (AP):
The defence team for the Italian captain on trial for the shipwreck of the Costa Concordia cruise liner and the deaths of 32 people, yesterday appealed to the court to take into consideration errors by other crew and malfunctioning equipment when it determines his fate.
With a verdict expected this week after 18 months of trial, survivors and victims' families already are wondering if justice will be done if only the captain, Francesco Schettino, the sole defendant, is convicted without any price to pay by the Italian cruise company for errors by other employees and for malfunctioning equipment.
Defence lawyer Donato Laino told the court the role of other crew should be kept in mind when deciding Schettino's fate.
"We're all in the same boat, so to say," he said.
Charges Against Schettino
Schettino is accused of causing the shipwreck on the night of Jan. 13, 2012, when he steered too close to a tiny Tuscan island, smashing into a granite reef that sliced open the hull, sending seawater rushing in.
He is also charged with multiple manslaughter and injury, and of abandoning the luxury liner when many of the 4,200 passengers and crew were still aboard and desperately trying to save themselves - some by leaping into the sea - as the Concordia was capsizing.
Survivors, shivering as they staggered ashore on Giglio Island, were startled to see the captain, already safe on land, "without even getting his feet wet," as Prosecutor Alessandro Leopizzi put it in his closing arguments.
The cruise company, Costa Crociere SpA, has put the blame squarely on Schettino.
Schettino's lawyers asked the court in the Tuscan town of Grosseto to acquit him of abandoning ship. Schettino has repeatedly denied the accusation, saying he was thrown off as the ship capsized. They also argued he was innocent of manslaughter, insisting no one died in the impact because of problems with other crew and equipment.