Captain of Doomed Cruise Ship Costa Concordia Sentenced to 16 Years

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The captain accused of causing the death of 32 people on the ill-fated Costa Concordia cruise ship has been found guilty of multiple charges of manslaughter, an Italian court ruled Wednesday. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Francesco Schettino, 54, was also found guilty of causing a disaster and abandoning ship before all 4,200 were evacuated from the stricken vessel, which went down near the Italian island of Giglio on Jan. 13, 2012. The judge said he will not go to prison until the appeals process is finished, NBC News has confirmed.

Schettino said the reef wasn't on his nautical charts, and his lawyers had sought acquittal for charges. The disgraced captain became earlier Wednesday as he asked the court for leniency, before the judges retired to consider their verdict.

Prosecutors had argued that his failure to promptly order an evacuation of the ship was the sole reason 32 people died. Prosecutor Alessandro Leopizzi had urged the court for convictions on all counts, describing Schettino's conduct as "reprehensible" and calling for a 26-year prison sentence.


— Praxilla Trabattoni and Alastair Jamieson