Italian court jails five over cruise ship disaster

Italian court jails five over cruise ship disaster

ROME - Agence France-Presse
Italian court jails five over cruise ship disaster

A file picture taken on January 18, 2012 shows boats of Italian police Carabinieri guarding past the cruise liner Costa Concordia aground in front of the harbour of the Isola del Giglio (Giglio island) after hitting underwater rocks. AFP photo

An Italian court on July 19 accepted plea bargains for five suspects in the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster under which they will serve prison sentences ranging from 18 months to two years and 10 months, media reported.

The five include Roberto Ferrarini, the director of ship owner Costa Crociere's crisis unit, Jacob Rusli Bin, the luxury liner's Indonesian helmsman, as well as a deputy of Captain Francesco Schettino and two other crew members.

Schettino, who is accused of multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship, is currently the only one standing trial for the deadly accident off Giglio island in Tuscany which claimed 32 lives in January 2012.

Under the plea agreements accepted by the court in Grosseto in the central Tuscany region, Ferrarini received the longest sentence of two years and 10 months in prison.

Manrico Giampedroni, the cabin service director, faces two years and six months in prison, while captain's deputy Ciro Ambrosio got one year and 11 months.

Rusli Bin, the liner's Indonesian helmsman who misunderstood the captain's orders at the moment of the crash, received a year and eight months in jail and officer Silvia Coronica got one year and six months, the shortest sentence.

Audio from the ship's black box revealed the chaos on the bridge on the night of the shipwreck, when Rusli Bin was steering the huge liner and Schettino had ordered a risky "salute" manoeuvre near the island.

In the recordings, when the crew realises the vessel is bearing down on rocks jutting out of the sea near Giglio, Schettino can be heard yelling "hard to port" while Ambrosio appears to yell "hard to starboard".

The helmsman, who did not speak English or Italian fluently, is heard asking "hard to starboard?" By the time Schettino had repeated his order it was too late to right the Concordia's course.

The luxurious liner crashed into the Giglio rocks on the night of January 13, 2012, with 4,229 people from 70 countries on board, keeling over and sparking a panicked and delayed evacuation which saw some people forced to throw themselves into the freezing sea.