Coming up

Don't miss




A landslide victory for the 'invisible candidate' in Algeria's Presidential polls

Read more


The World This Week - 18 April 2014

Read more


The World This Week - 18 April 2014 (part 2)

Read more


Presidential adviser resigns over "shoe-shine scandal"

Read more

#THE 51%

Breaking stereotypes

Read more

#TECH 24

Galaxy S5 v. HTC One (M8): Which is the right one for you?

Read more


New PM Manuel Valls outlines priorities

Read more


Jean-Marc Loubier, bags and shoes.

Read more


Hip-hop musician Beat Assailant on mixing the sounds of the city

Read more

  • French journalists abducted in Syria freed

    Read more

  • Le Pen’s National Front fail to woo Britain’s Eurosceptics

    Read more

  • South Korea ferry captain defends decision to delay evacuation

    Read more

  • In pictures: French kite festival takes flight

    Read more

  • VIDEO: Anti-Semitic leaflets in Eastern Ukraine condemned

    Read more

  • In pictures: Good Friday celebrated across the globe

    Read more

  • Bouteflika, the ghost president

    Read more

  • Does Valls’ upcoming Vatican trip violate French secularism?

    Read more

  • Ukraine separatists say ‘not bound’ by Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • Obama signs bill to block controversial Iran diplomat from UN post

    Read more

  • Ukraine: ‘One bloody incident could scupper Geneva deal’

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • Indian election: Votes for sale

    Read more

  • World honours Garcia Marquez’s magical literary legacy

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

  • Algeria's ailing Bouteflika clinches fourth term amid fraud claims

    Read more

  • Top Hollande adviser resigns over conflict of interest accusation

    Read more

  • West African Ebola outbreak caused by new strain of virus

    Read more

  • Mob launches deadly attack on UN shelter for S. Sudan civilians

    Read more

  • Stagehand of God? Maradona's legendary goal inspires a play

    Read more


Costa Concordia captain enters plea bargain


Video by Seema Gupta

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-09-26

Lawyers representing Francesco Schettino, the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship that capsized and left 32 people dead last year, said Wednesday that their client was ready to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced prison sentence.

The trial of Francesco Schettino, dubbed "Italy's most hated man" for his role in the Costa Concordia disaster last year, resumed in Italy Wednesday after being delayed by a lawyers’ strike earlier this month.

As the trial got underway, lawyer’s for the defendant said that their client was ready to plead guilty in exchange for a prison sentence of three years and five months.

However, Schettino has already seen an earlier plea bargain bid thrown out by the judge in charge of preliminary investigations into the case, suggesting this latest attempt at a deal may be unlikely to succeed.

He is facing charges of manslaughter and causing the loss of his ship for his role in what is one of the worst maritime disasters in Italy’s recent history, when the Costa Concordia struck a rock off Giglio Island in January 2012 and keeled on to its side.

The accident resulted in a chaotic night-time evacuation of the cruise liner’s more than 4,000 passengers and crew. Despite rescuers’ efforts, 32 people died in the disaster, relatives of whom are expected to attend the trial.

Schettino has been the subject of the vast majority of the finger-pointing that followed the accident and has been dubbed "Italy's most hated man" by tabloids for his alleged part in causing the disaster.

The 52-year-old has been depicted as a blackguard who was showing off for a blonde female guest when he performed a risky manoeuvre to "salute" the island that ended in tragedy.

He has also been given the nickname "Captain Coward" for abandoning ship while terrified people were trapped aboard, then sobbing in the arms of the ship's chaplain.

Others to blame?

However, Schettino’s lawyers argue that he prevented an even worse disaster by steering the 290-metre (950-ft) vessel into shallow waters after the impact and that he was thrown overboard due to the angle of the leaning ship.

They will also attempt to show over the course of the trial that "no single person was responsible" for the disaster, with the ship’s owner Costa Crociere, Europe's biggest cruise operator, among those they believe should share the blame.

Schettino’s lawyers plan to raise questions about the materials used to build the ship and a malfunction of emergency doors and back-up generators.

Four other people charged, including the ship's Indonesian helmsman, have entered plea bargains to be ruled on in a separate hearing on July 20.

Costa earlier admitted limited responsibility as Schettino's employer and was ordered to pay one million euros ($1.3 million) in a controversial ruling that has excluded it from criminal proceedings.

The trial began on July 9 but was immediately suspended because lawyers involved were taking part in a nationwide strike against measures to streamline civil trials.

Salvage operation still underway

Meanwhile, the rusting wreckage of the 290-metre Costa Concordia still lies on its side outside the port where it ran aground some 18-months ago.

Hundreds of salvage operators are working around the clock to right the ship and have it towed away to be scrapped before winter arrives.

However, the scale of the hugely technical and largely unprecedented operation has led to fears among locals that it may be some time before the wreck of the ship is removed in the otherwise picturesque harbour.

"We are angry and really disappointed that this is all still going on," Felicita Speranza, a 65-year-old who sells souvenirs in the port, told the AFP news agency.

"We had been told it would be finished by last September, then May, then this September. We'll have to see if this time it's true."

The disaster has, nevertheless, had a positive impact on the island’s tourist industry, with holidaymakers flocking to the region to snap pictures of the infamous ship’s rusting hulk.

"We opened a bed and breakfast in May, a few months after the accident. For us, it's been good business," said Giada, 24, owner of a small local hotel.

"We've been booked out ever since."

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-07-17

  • Italy

    Three more bodies pulled from Costa Concordia

    Read more


    Court hearing marks first step of Costa Concordia trial

    Read more


    Workers begin pumping fuel from Costa Concordia shipwreck

    Read more