Prosecutor: captain is reason why 32 died aboard Concordia

AP News
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Posted: Jan 23, 2015 11:26 AM
Prosecutor: captain is reason why 32 died aboard Concordia

ROME (AP) — The 32 victims of the Costa Concordia shipwreck didn't die because the luxury cruise liner crashed into a reef, but due to "chaos, delays, errors" under the captain's watch, a prosecutor contended in final arguments Friday.

Francesco Schettino, who captained the Costa Crociere vessel when it capsized in 2012 near tiny Giglio island off the Tuscan coast, is being tried for manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and abandoning the Concordia while many passengers and crew members were still aboard.

"Not one of the 32 victims of the Costa Concordia died because of the gash, because of the impact" against the jagged reef, which sliced open a side of the hull, argued Prosecutor Alessandro Leopizzi. "But all the dead on the ship were done in by the chaos, by the delays, by the errors after impact, in the moments of the emergency" under Schettino's handling.

Schettino, the sole defendant in the trial in the city of Grosseto, risks up to 20 years in prison if convicted. A verdict is expected late next week.

Five other Costa Crociere employees who were indicted in the case were allowed to enter plea bargains and none is serving prison time.

Autopsies found that victims drowned, either in the sea when they jumped or fell overboard when the ship began to tilt on its side and lifeboats could no longer be launched, or when they fell into empty elevator shafts filled with water.

Survivors testified the evacuation was delayed and chaotically handled.

Schettino left while many were still aboard and defied an Italian coast guard official's demands he return aboard.

He testified that the reef wasn't on the Concordia's nautical charts and that he left the ship to direct evacuation from the island.

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Follow Frances D'Emilio on Twitter at www.twitter.com/fdemilio