Captain’s former lover gives evidence in ‘Costa Concordia’ trial

Domnica Cemortan was on the bridge of the cruise ship when it ran aground

An undated file photo of Capt Francesco Schettino, who  stands accused of multiple manslaughter following the sinking of the Costa Concordia in January 2012. Photograph: Reuters

An undated file photo of Capt Francesco Schettino, who stands accused of multiple manslaughter following the sinking of the Costa Concordia in January 2012. Photograph: Reuters

Wed, Oct 30, 2013, 01:00




Domnica Cemortan, the Moldovan woman who was on the bridge of the Costa Concordia on the January night last year when the cruise ship ran aground, admitted in court on Tuesday that she had had an affair with the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino.

Ms Cemortan (26) was giving evidence in Grosseto in the trial in which Capt Schettino stands accused of multiple manslaughter following the sinking of the Concordia off the Tuscan island of Giglio, with the loss of 32 lives.

Ms Cemortan was reluctant to answer when asked about her relationship with Capt Schettino. It was only after the hearing had been adjourned and she had been advised by her lawyer that, under Italian law, she was obliged to answer the question, that she agreed to answer, saying: “Yes, I did have a relationship with Francesco Schettino but I have had nothing to do with him since the shipwreck.”

Ms Cemortan said she had been on the deck at the moment Capt Schettino steered the Concordia on to the rocks, adding that she had not immediately understood what was happening and had only realised the gravity of the situation when the alarm lights began to flash. She also claimed she had heard one ship’s officer complain that the captain’s orders had not been carried out correctly.

Chaos
Evidence from other witnesses on Tuesday painted a picture of chaos in the immediate aftermath of the collision, with crew and passengers seemingly left to their own devices.

Several witnesses, including Giglio islanders, have testified that they saw Capt Schettino on the shoreline, long before all the passengers had been evacuated.

Capt Schettino, on the contrary, argues that his seamanship in the end saved the lives of more than 4,000 passengers and crew.

In his evidence, Antonello Tievoli, the ship’s maitre d’, yesterday confirmed the absurd background to this tragedy. Mr Tievoli, who comes from Giglio, admitted that in early January he had asked Capt Schettino to do a “sail-by” close to the island, by way of a salute to Giglio and to family members.

He acknowledged that he now felt guilty about having asked for the “sail-by”.