A judge in Tuscany on Wednesday accepted a plea agreement from Costa Crociere, a unit of Carnival Corp., which required the company to pay a fine of $1.31 million for a deadly cruise ship wreck in January 2012. The plea agreement will settle any criminal charges stemming from the accident that occurred off the coast of the Tuscan island of Giglio that resulted in the deaths of 32 people.
The cruise ship captained by Francesco Schettino, carrying over 4,000 passengers and crew, ran into a reef on January 13, 2012, which caused the ship to take on water and overturn. The Concordia is still in the water awaiting recovery. The settlement does not shield the Concordia from civil suits. Schettino remains accused on manslaughter, and could see a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Schettino is not the only member of the ship’s crew that still faces legal repercussions however, as five other members also face indictment on criminal charges.
John Arthur Eaves, Jr., an American lawyer representing 150 passengers and crew members, blames the disaster mostly on the shoulders of Carnival and Costa, and termed the plea agreement a “tragedy.” Eaves is striving for $5 million in compensation for each of his clients. Similarly, the Italian consumer group Codacons described the monetary settlement as a “slap to the survivors and most of all to the relatives of the victims of the shipwreck.” Passengers who were onboard that day contend that poor training on the part of the ship’s staff resulted in a chaotic evacuation.
As to the salvage of the Concordia, the ship is planned to be corrected in early August of this year and then floated off the reef in the fall.
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