The captain of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia will spend the next 16 years in prison for his part in the ship’s deadly crash.
Captain Francesco Schettino was in command when his ship sank after sailing too close to shoreline, resulting in the deaths of 32 people in 2012.
After a 19-month trial, Judge Giovanni Puliatti charged the captain with manslaughter and sentenced him to 16 years in prison on Wednesday. He was facing up to 26 years behind bars for causing a maritime disaster, abandoning ship, and multiple counts of manslaughter.
While Schettino claims he was made a “scapegoat” for tragedy, prosecutors say he was “an idiot” who singlehandedly caused the wreck and then abandoned ship ahead of other passengers, according to CNN.
Schettino admits he sailed too close to shore in an effort to impress passengers, but insists he only abandoned ship after losing his balance and accidentally falling into a lifeboat.
Earlier in the trial, the captain broke down in court, sobbing to the judge: “All the responsibility has been loaded on to me with no respect for the truth or for the memory of the victims.”
He also complained of being “offered for sacrifice” after spending the last three years “in a media meat grinder.”