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Concordia skipper's sentence upheld

Do Not UseDo Not Use 31/05/2016
A helicopter approaches the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the west coast of Italy. Photo: January 2012: The 290m-long vessel was too close to shore when it struck rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio © Reuters The 290m-long vessel was too close to shore when it struck rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio

An Italian appeals court has upheld the 16-year sentence given to the captain of the Costa Concordia which capsized in 2012 killing 32 people.

Four-stage image showing how Costa Concordia hit rocks and tilted before sinking © BBC Four-stage image showing how Costa Concordia hit rocks and tilted before sinking

Francesco Schettino was sentenced last year after a court found him guilty of manslaughter; causing a maritime accident and abandoning ship.

He was seeking to overturn the conviction, while the prosecution wanted a longer prison term.

The cruise ship capsized after hitting rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio.

Schettino has not yet begun his sentence and has one final appeal to Italy's highest court.

He was not in the Florence court when the verdict was read out by the presiding judge on Tuesday evening, Italian media reported.

At the original trial, investigators had severely criticised his handling of the disaster, accusing him of bringing the cruise ship too close to shore when it struck the rocks.

More than 4,000 passengers and crew were forced into a chaotic evacuation.

Schettino said he had taken the ship so close to land for "commercial reasons" in a bid to please his passengers and those ashore.

He rejected rumours that he had wanted to impress his lover, Domnica Cemortan, who was with him at the helm.

Costa Crociere, the company that owned the ship, sidestepped potential criminal charges in 2013 by agreeing to pay a €1m ($1.1m; £769,000) fine.

Five other employees, including the helmsman, were given prison sentences ranging from 18 months to two years and 10 months in plea bargains concluded early in the investigation.

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