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Prosecutors seek 26 years in prison for Concordia captain

Prosecutors seek 26 years in prison for Concordia captain
Italian prosecutors have asked the court to convict Capt. Francesco Schettino and sentence him to 26 years in prison for the deadly capsize of Costa Concordia. Thirty-two people died when the ship crashed into the rocks off Giglio on Jan. 13, 2012.

According to ANSA and AFP news services, the sentence is based on multiple manslaughter (14 years), shipwreck (nine years), abandoning ship (three years) and failing to notify authorities of the accident (three months).

Prosecutor Maria Navarro said Schettino ordered the ship to pass close to Giglio in a salute to the island as a favor to a head waiter on board, ANSA reported, while prosecutor Stefano Pizza accused the captain of multiple actions that contributed to the grounding. These included not checking that the route was safe, approaching Giglio at high speed, giving rapid-fire orders to the helmsman and allowing too many visitors on the bridge, distracting the officers.

Wire service reports said the court was asked to take Schettino into custody as a flight risk. He has been under house arrest since shortly after the wreck.

Schettino reportedly was not in court at Grosseto on Monday, and his lawyer disputed the flight risk allegation. The Associated Press said the defense is expected to respond to the charges starting Feb. 9.

Schettino has denied responsibility for the grounding and maintained his actions saved lives.