Schettino was charged with multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship in one of the highest-profile shipping disasters in recent years.

However it is far from certain whether he will actually go to jail before the end of Italy’s long appeals process, which can take years.

Investigators severely criticized his handling of the disaster, accusing him of bringing the 290 meter-long vessel too close to shore when it struck rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio, tearing a hole in its side and setting off a chaotic night evacuation of more than 4,000 passengers and crew.

Prosecutors originally had asked for a sentence of 26 years in prison for Schettino, who has admitted some responsibility as captain of the ship but denies blame for deaths that occurred during the evacuation.

He was left alone in the dock to answer for the disaster after the ship’s owners Costa Cruises, a unit of Carnival Corp paid a 1 million euro ($1.13 million) fine to settle and prosecutors accepted plea bargains from five other officials.