Europe

Concordia captain delayed alarm to avoid 'panic'

Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino (L) stands during his trial in a local theatre in Grosseto on December 2, 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Francesco Schettino's actions have earned him the nickname "Captain Coward" in the Italian media

The captain of the ill-fated cruise ship Costa Concordia has told a court that he delayed sounding the alarm on the sinking vessel because he feared people would jump off.

Speaking on the second day of testimony, Francesco Schettino said that he was "afraid of panic" in the moments when the ship began to sink.

Mr Schettino is charged with manslaughter and dereliction of duty.

The Costa Concordia sank off Italy's coast in 2012, killing 32 people.

The catastrophe occurred after the vessel deviated from its planned course, veering close to rocks off the Italian island of Giglio.

Prosecutors argue that this deviation, and Mr Schettino's handling of the sinking as it happened, caused the deaths of people on board.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The vessel lay stricken for two years after the disaster before it was towed to Genoa in July to be scrapped

Mr Schettino has argued that his decisions on board saved lives.

On the first day of his testimony, he said that he deviated from the original route for a number of reasons, denying rumours that he had intended to impress a woman on board at the helm.

"I wanted to kill three birds with one stone," Mr Schettino said.

He said he wanted to please the passengers with a dramatic view of the rocky outcrop, salute a retired captain who lived on the island, and do a favour for the vessel's head waiter, who was from Giglio.

If convicted, Mr Schettino could face 20 years in prison.


Costa Concordia disaster

Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation

2012

  • 13 Jan: Costa Concordia runs aground
  • 31 Jan: Search for bodies abandoned
  • 22 March: Five more bodies found in wreck
  • 24 March: Fuel removal work completed
  • 21 April: Salvage contract awarded to firms Titan Salvage and Micoperi
  • 15 Oct: Capt Schettino appears at court inquiry

2013

  • 3 Apr: Largest support platform in position
  • 9 July: Captain Schettino goes on trial
  • 20 July: Five senior crew members convicted of manslaughter
  • 17 Sept: Ship rolled upright in 'parbuckling' operation

2014

  • 14 July: Refloating operation begins
  • 27 July: Arrives in Genoa for scrapping

Special report: Costa Concordia disaster

Related Topics

More on this story