Captain Francesco Schettino, the captain of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia has been found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 16 years in prison.
This sentence comes at the end of what was a very long 19 month trial in which Captain Schettino was charged with causing the deaths of 32 passengers in 2012, when the ship he commanded hit rocks and sank.
Captain Schettino, as is being reported, begged the judges for leniency as he claimed to be the victim of a plot to make him the scapegoat of the shipwreck that took place. He stated during his trial; "I have spent the last three years in a media meat grinder. It is difficult to call what I have been living through a life. All the responsibility has been loaded on to me with no respect for the truth or for the memory of the victims."
The sentence that was being sought by prosecutors was for Captain Schettino to be imprisoned for 26 years and three months for multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship with passengers and crew still on board.
The Captain was accused of taking the ship too close to the shore. He in turn blamed his crew for the collision, saying the delayed evacuation may have saved lives. He also insisted that he fell off the tilting boat and was then ordered by its owners not to go back onboard.
His lawyers argued that it was not the collision, but rather the chaos that followed due to the ship losing power that was the direct cause of the deaths.