FLORENCE, Jan 26 (Reuters) – An Italian prosecutor asked a court on Monday to sentence the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise liner to more than 26 years in jail for his role in the 2012 disaster that killed 32 people.
Francesco Schettino was the commander of the vessel, a floating hotel as long as three football pitches, when it came too close to shore and hit rocks off the Tuscan holiday island of Giglio.
In summing up arguments at the trial in the nearby of Grosseto, Prosecutor Maria Navarro said Schettino should serve 14 years for manslaughter and causing injuries, nine for causing a shipwreck, three for abandoning ship, and a further three months for giving false testimony.
The trial is expected to go to the jury next month.
The prosecutor said that if he is convicted, Schettino should be jailed immediately because there was a risk he would try to leave the country. In Italy, most defendants remain free pending appeals trials
More than 4,000 passengers and crew were on the ship when it capsized, prompting a chaotic nighttime rescue.
It wallowed partially submerged near the port of Giglio for more than two years. The wreck was towed away last year in one of the most complex maritime salvages on record.
The Tuscany region and the island of Giglio are seeking 220 million euros ($247 million) in damages from Costa Cruises, a unit of Carnival Corp because of the negative effects the disaster had on tourism.
Costa Cruises avoided a criminal trial in the case by agreeing to pay a 1 million euro fine to Italy last year, but has said it would pay thousands of euros in damages to survivors.
Schettino drew derision in Italy for bringing the Concordia too close to shore in an ill-fated maritime maneuver known as a “salute” and abandoning ship before all survivors were rescued.
An audio recording of an Italian coast guard officer shouting at Schettino in a cell phone conversation to: “Get back on board, damn it!” went viral on the internet and the phrase was printed on T-shirts. ($1 = 0.8906 euros) (Writing by Isla Binnie; Editing by Toby Chopra)
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