Schettino faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Charges include multiple manslaughter, abandoning ship before passengers and crew were safely ashore and causing a shipwreck. As the trial began yesterday, lawyers representing 52-year old Schettino went ahead with a last ditch attempt to secure a plea bargain, pleading guilty in exchange for three years and five months imprisonment, the plea was rejected. An earlier plea bargain of three years and four months was rejected in May.
Prosecutor, Francesco Verusio, told the court yesterday that Schettino’s guilt is no longer in doubt, the only thing left to determine is how long his sentence will be.
Schettino still insists his reaction to the crash prevented a much larger disaster and that he was thrown overboard into one of the lifeboats.
Three ship’s officers, the helmsman and Roberto Ferrarini, the crisis coordinator of the vessel’s owners, Costa Crociere, have already negotiated plea bargains which are due to be ruled on at a separate hearing on July 20.
The hearing for Schettino is expected to last for more than a year and is being held in an improvised courtroom in Grosseto’s theatre with the panel of judges seated on the stage. This is to allow enough room for people during the trial.
Domnica Cemortam, the dancer who was on the bridge with the captain when the ship crashed also appeared in court yesterday to offer moral support to Schettino. Cemortam is demanding roughly 200,000 euros from Costa Crociere for the damage her reputation has suffered since the disaster. It became public knowledge that Schettino clearly had a relationship of some kind happening with the 26-year old but that he was also married with children.
The Costa Concordia still lies on her side waiting to be re-floated but many difficulties have repeatedly hampered the salvage attempt, and news over recent weeks has suggested there could be more damage to the vessel than originally thought.