Concordia Captain Takes the Stand

By MarEx 2014-12-02 15:42:00

Captain Francesco Schettino is currently facing charges of manslaughter, causing a maritime disaster and abandoning ship with passengers still on board, although he continues to deny wrongdoing. He faces up to 23 years in prison if convicted.

At the center of the Costa Concordia disaster, the infamous captain took the stand for the first time in court on Tuesday, December 2. Media outlets described him as combative and contradicting the testimony, not just of his first mate, but also what he had previously said about the deadly shipwreck.

Since the luxury cruise liner capsized in January 2012, Schettino has not seemed to take any responsibility in causing the tragic wreck. Dubbed ‘Captain Coward’, he has placed blame on uncharted rocks, lack of communication with his Indonesian helmsman, Costa Crociere – for lack of maps, and even the ship itself.

However, many believe the real cause of the Concordia’s accident was “showboating,” done by Schettino. Now retired Costa chairman Pier Luigi Foschi placed the blame for the wreck squarely on the captain, saying it was his choice to deviate from frequently traveled routes. Previous reports claim that Schettino came close to Giglio to salute Mario Palombo, a legend among Costa Cruises' commanders, and as a gesture to the only Giglio native on board.

In his first testimony at his trial, Schettino said he wanted to give passengers a better view, denying rumors that he maneuvered the ship to impress a woman who was at the helm with him at the time. Instead, he told the court that there were "commercial" reasons behind the move.

The captain is also accused of abandoning his ship and passengers. He admits to mismanaging the emergency; he has also previously admitted that at the time of the collision, he was navigating by sight.

In addition to questions over how Schettino handled himself after the wreck, questions also lingered about whether the captain should have ordered an evacuation sooner and why no "mayday" distress signal was sent, CNN reported.

Schettino is being tried alone after five other defendants reached plea bargains. His testimony comes a month after the body of the last missing victim was recovered from the wreck of the cruise ship.

The Costa Concordia capsized after it struck rocks off Italy's Giglio Island in January 2012. 32 lives were lost during the subsequent chaotic evacuation of the 4,200 people on board the ship.