29 Oct 2013

Concordia captain on trial

The trial of Captain Francesco Schettino, who was in charge of the ship that ran aground last year, continues in a municipal theatre in Italy, with testimony from Moldovan dancer Domnica Cemortan.

The second day of the trial began on Tuesday at a makeshift courthouse at a Tuscan theatre.

Witnesses called to testify in the trial include Domnica Cemortan, a young Moldovan woman who was at the time a friend of Schettino and was on the liner’s bridge when the collision occurred. She is expected to give evidence on Tuesday afternoon.

Arriving at the hearing on Tuesday morning, Mr Schettino’s lawyer Francesco Pepe said the defence was pleased with the details coming out of the testimonies so far.

“At last we are seeing that the issue of the captain abandoning ship is being discussed and written about by the media and we are pleased that the fact the captain did not abandon ship early is being acknowledged and confirmed,” he said. “It saddens us to see that so many headlines still focus on the issue of the speed of the ship but we can understand it makes for a more colourful topic so let’s move on, things are going well.”

Mr Schettino faces multiple charges including manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship after the Concordia, carrying more than 4,000 passengers and crew, struck a reef off the Tuscan island of Giglio and capsized on 13 January, 2012.

The former captain, who has been in constant attendance at the hearings, chatted readily with journalists in the courtroom bar and has spoken out often on television.

He has previously admitted that he bears responsibility for the accident as the ship’s captain. But he says that he is not the only person to blame and wants the vessel to be examined for evidence of possible technical faults that may have contributed to the deaths during the desperate night-time evacuation of the ship.