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Costa Concordia Captain's Defense Asks for Mercy as Verdict Looms

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GROSSETO, Italy — The defense team for the Italian captain on trial for the shipwreck of the Costa Concordia cruise liner and the deaths of 32 people has appealed to the court to take into consideration errors by other crew and malfunctioning equipment when it determines his fate.

With a verdict expected this week after 18 months of trial, survivors and victims' families already are wondering if justice will be done if only the captain, Francesco Schettino, the sole defendant, is convicted without any price to pay by the Italian cruise company for errors by other employees and for malfunctioning equipment.

Defense lawyer, Donato Laino, told the court on Monday that the role of other crew should be kept in mind when deciding Schettino's fate. "We're all in the same boat, so to say," he said.

Schettino is accused of causing the shipwreck on the night of Jan. 13, 2012, when he steered too close to a tiny Tuscan island, smashing into a granite reef.

He is also charged with multiple manslaughter and injury, and of abandoning the luxury liner when many of the 4,200 passengers and crew were still aboard and desperately trying to save themselves — some by leaping into the sea — as the Concordia was capsizing.

The cruise company has put the blame squarely on Schettino. He has repeatedly denied abandoning ship, saying he was thrown off.

The trial learned that an emergency generator didn't work; elevators didn't shut down; some crew didn't speak Italian, the ship's working language, and others barely spoke English.

Prosecutors have asked the court to convict Schettino and sentence him to more than 26 years in prison.

Image: Francesco Schettino
Francesco Schettino, the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise liner, stands in the court during his trial in Grosseto, Italy, on Tuesday.MAX ROSSI / Reuters

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