Thursday 21 September 2017

Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino: ‘I want my job back’

Undated file photo of Captain Francesco Schettino...Captain Francesco Schettino is seen in this undated file photo released on January 18, 2012. Italian coastguards urged Schettino, the captain of the stricken cruise liner Costa Concordia to return to his listing ship, leaked recordings showed, as divers continued their search for survivors into the night after finding five more bodies in the half-submerged wreck. Schettino has been allowed to leave jail but is under house arrest, blamed by his employer for risking the lives of more than 4,200 passengers and crew and half a billion dollars of ship in a reckless display of bravado. REUTERS/Stringer (ITALY - Tags: DISASTER TRANSPORT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)...I
Undated file photo of Captain Francesco Schettino...Captain Francesco Schettino is seen in this undated file photo released on January 18, 2012. Italian coastguards urged Schettino, the captain of the stricken cruise liner Costa Concordia to return to his listing ship, leaked recordings showed, as divers continued their search for survivors into the night after finding five more bodies in the half-submerged wreck. Schettino has been allowed to leave jail but is under house arrest, blamed by his employer for risking the lives of more than 4,200 passengers and crew and half a billion dollars of ship in a reckless display of bravado. REUTERS/Stringer (ITALY - Tags: DISASTER TRANSPORT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)...I
The Costa Concordia lays on its starboard side after it ran aground off Giglio island. Photo: AP
(FILES) This recent file picture taken on June 25, 2012 shows workers of the US firm Titan Salvage and Italian firm Micoperi working on the stranded Costa Concordia cruise ship near the harbour of Giglio Porto. A newspaper in Italy reported citing investigators on July 3, 2012 that the Italian cruise ship which crashed in January killing 32 people was sailing with its sealed doors open, unapproved maps and faulty instruments. AFP PHOTO/ FILES/VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/GettyImages)

FRANCESCO Schettino, the captain of the Costa Concordia has launched legal action to get his job back, nine months after the luxury cruise liner capsized off the island of Giglio with the loss of 32 lives.

Capt Francesco Schettino is also claiming back pay, after it emerged on Wednesday that he had been dismissed by Costa Cruises, the company that owns the Concordia, in July.

"Costa Crociere confirms that it has concluded the disciplinary procedure against Schettino, following the sinking of the Costa Concordia, ordering his dismissal," the company said in a statement.

The captain has claimed that he managed to save lives on the night of the disaster by steering the listing ship so that it sank in shallows off the coast of Giglio, rather than in open water. He has said that many more lives would have been lost on Jan 13 had he not made the manoeuvre as the ship began to take on water after a rocky shoal tore a massive rip in its hull.

He is expected to turn up in Grosseto in Tuscany on Monday for a court hearing at which he is expected to be sent to trial.

He has received special permission to leave his home town of Meta di Sorrento, near Naples, in order to attend the proceedings.

He could be charged with abandoning ship, contravening the laws of the sea and multiple counts of manslaughter.

The hearing, which is expected to last at least three days, will be held in a theatre auditorium because Grosseto’s court is too small to accommodate all the witnesses, experts and aggrieved parties in the case.

Valeria Montesarchio, the investigating judge, is expected to hear evidence extracted from the ship’s data recorder, as well as recorded conversations between Capt Schettino and the Italian Coast Guard as the tragedy unfolded.

In one memorable exchange, Gregorio De Falco, a Coast Guard officer, told the captain “Get back on board, for f***’s sake,” after it emerged that Schettino had left the vessel in a life boat before all the crew and passengers had been evacuated.

He reportedly claimed that he had accidentally “tripped” into the lifeboat, but then supervised the evacuation from dry land.

The phrase in Italian – “Vada a bordo, cazzo” – went viral on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites and was even printed on T-shirts.

Capt Schettino has been accused of sailing too close to Giglio, part of the Tuscan archipelago, in order to perform a ‘salute’ to an old friend and as a favour for a member of his crew.

Eight other people are being investigated for the debacle – five of the ship’s officers and three employees of the Genoa-based cruise company, including Roberto Ferrarini, the fleet crisis coordinator.

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