Francesco Schettino attends his trial at the Grosseto court, Italy in 2015. File picture: Gregorio Borgia/AP

Rome - The Italian captain of the Costa Concordia cruise liner that crashed into a reef in 2012, killing 32 people, was headed to a Rome prison after losing his final appeals bid.

The Court of Cassation, Italy's highest criminal tribunal, in a ruling Friday evening upheld Francesco Schettino's lower court convictions and his 16-year prison sentence.

Schettino was convicted of manslaughter and causing the shipwreck while captaining the luxury liner sailing near Giglio Island off Tuscany. He was also convicted of abandoning the capsizing vessel with passengers and crew still aboard.

Michelina Suriano, one of the lawyers representing the victims, said "finally Schettino begins to pay for his wrongdoing."

Defense lawyer Saverio Senese called the ex-captain a scapegoat.

The wreckage, raised in a dramatic engineering feat, was eventually towed away to become scrap.

Associated Press