The company that owns the Costa Concordia cruise which, which ran aground and sank off the coast of Italy last year, is being forced to pay a $1.3 million fine in order to avoid a criminal trial.
A judge fined Costa Crociere, a division of Carnival Corp., $1.3 million for the January 2012 cruise disaster which left 32 people dead.
Costa Crociere won't have to face trial but it will have a heading on Monday to determine if six of their employees, including Costa Concordia captain, Francesco Schettino, must stand trial. Schettino would face charges of manslaughter for steering the ship onto the rocks, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Lawyer John Arthur Eaves Jr., who represents the ship passengers and crew said the accident was "primarily the fault of Carnival and its subsidiary Costa Crociere" and that they should eb charged. He believes this plea agreement is "a tragedy."
Another group that represents the passengers, Italian consumer group Codacons agreed, saying the deal was a slap to the survivors and most of all to the relatives of the victims of the shipwreck."
"The responsibility of the company for the shipwreck on Giglio is more than evident, as are the many shortcomings in the safety systems on the Costa Concordia," Codacons said in a statement, according to the LA Times.
Some passengers believe poor staff training added to the disaster as the lifeboat evacuation was chaotic.
Marco de Luca, the lawyer representing Costa Crociere, said the agreement is "the most reasonable solution." They believe that Schettino is responsible for the accident.
Schettino is being accused of sailing too close to the island of Giglio which resulted in the ship crashing in to the rocks. The rocks tore the side of the ship, causing it to take on water and turn on its side. If charged, Schettino could spend 20 years in jail.
"Carnival and Costa Crociere set the standards that allowed this to happen, permitting captains to change routes and allowing crew that didn't speak the same language to work together," Eaves said. "A 1-million euro fine will not get them to change their ways."
In addition to the fine, Costa Crociere has been hit with several civil lawsuits from family members of those who died in the incident and survivors. The firm presented a $14,400 per person offer, but many survivors turned it down.
Due to this plea agreement, Costa Crociere can pursue legal action ad an injured party and will attempt to seek damages for the loss of the ship.
The plea agreement means Costa Crociere may pursue legal action as an injured party. It has said it will seek payment of damages for the loss of the ship.
"It is a legal paradox," Zerbi said, "that the firm can pay this fine and then simply reappear at a trial as an injured party, as a victim."