Costa Concordia: Why navigation might 'fail' and other cruise ship questions

Many questions remain unanswered after Italian cruise ship, Costa Concordia, collided with rocks off the coast of Tuscany and capsized this week.

3. In such high profile cases, can captains get a fair trial?

Gregorio Borgia/AP
Italian firefighters scuba divers approach the cruise ship Costa Concordia leaning on its side, the day after it ran aground off the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy, Sunday.

The cruise ship captain was arrested on Saturday and charged with manslaughter, according to Reuters. Given ongoing international media attention many question whether or not Captain Francesco Schettino has a chance at a fair trial. A front page editorial in Italy’s Corriere della Sera read, “Italy owes the world, international public opinion, the families of those who lost their lives, those who were injured and those who fortunately remained unhurt, a convincing explanation and the toughest possible sanctions against those responsible for this tragedy,” reports Reuters.
“I don’t think he’s going to get a fair trial, frankly,” says Mr. Loh, who contends he doesn’t believe a captain should be brought to criminal trial in a case like this at all. “It’s unfair to criminalize negligent behavior…. I think he can be held responsible, but there’s a difference between criminal and civil responsibility,” he says.
“It’s a question of mens rea," a Latin phrase meaning a guilty mind, says Loh. “Knowing it to be wrong and doing it anyway is the nature of criminal behavior … but is there any evidence the captain knew what he was doing was wrong?"

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