It has been a year and a half since we reported on the tragic shipwreck of the Italian luxury liner Costa Concordia, which sank off the coast of the Isola del Giglio in Italy, a wreck that cost the lives of 32 few and passengers.
Back then, there was plenty of blame to go around. Most of it ended up heaped on the captain of the vessel, Francesco Schettino. He was disgraced for abandoning the ship, and charged with manslaughter. But in the end five other crew members faced charges, as well.
BBC News is now reporting that this five have entered guilty pleas and have been sentenced. The nature of their plea deals almost guarantees that they will not see jail time.
"What will the families of the victims think? This is truly disappointing," said Daniele Bocciolini, a lawyer for the victims. "Schettino remains the only one on trial, but not the only one at fault, in my opinion."
The five guilty and now sentenced defendants were Roberto Ferrarini, director of the Italian cruise company's crisis unit, cabin service director Manrico Giampedroni, first officer Ciro Ambrosio, Indonesian helmsman Jacob Rusli Bin and third officer Silvia Coronica.
In the wake of the tragedy, rumors abounded about how the wreck had happened. One theory was that the captain had purposely steered his ship close to land so that one crew member, the ship's head waiter, could wave to family members on shore.
Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper reported that the captain executed a swing-by maneuver near the island of Giglio so the ship’s head waiter could wave to family on shore. It is not known if the waiter asked for the maneuver, or if the captain intended to surprise him. The head waiter's sister had posted to Facebook shortly before:
‘Shortly the “Concordia di Costa Cociere” will be close. A salute to my brother, who will finally disembark for a holiday in Savona.’
Captain Schettino's manslaughter trial began this week.