Crime and Court news / Society / Tourism / Transport

The Costa Concordia case and the Italian punishment standards

Until some years ago, the Italian Ministry of Justice was called “Ministry of Grace and Justice”.

Francesco Schettino, the commander of the cruise ship Costa Concordia, was sentenced to a 16-year term by an Italian Court in connection with the disaster: six months for every person who died in the accident, as the father of one victim pointed out.

However, for Mr Schettino the jail is still far away, since the Court refused to issue a warrant of arrest, probably because there is no danger of escape, tempering with evidence or commission of a new offense. Mr Schettino will be free until his judgement is upheld by the Supreme Court in Rome, unless a warrant of arrest is issued by the Court of Appeals.

Despite all this, his defense team claimed that the punishment is excessive for a negligence trial according to all the Italian standards… and they are right. A certain laxity is inherent to Italian criminal law. Your sentence can be suspended not once, but twice. Any jail term under three years is nearly automatically converted into community service. If you are jailed, you can benefit from a wide array of commutations, “partial freedom” regimes, benefits and temporary permits.

In the First Republic era, general amnesties were routinely granted and MPs couldn’t be tried without the authorization of the Parliament, which was almost never granted. Today MPs can be prosecuted without any authorization, but they can’t be arrested without the consent of the Parliament, which is however sometimes granted.

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