Concordia captain was hero, trial told
MORE than 4,000 passengers and crew on board the Costa Concordia could have died had Captain Francesco Schettino not delayed the order to abandon ship, his lawyers told an Italian court yesterday..
Defence lawyers argued that Capt Schettino should be credited with saving lives by delaying the abandon ship command until the giant cruise liner had drifted close to shore, after it rammed into rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio.
Had he given the order earlier, the ship would have been further out at sea and would have sunk with the loss of hundreds, if not thousands of lives, his legal team said.
Instead. the cruise liner veered around towards the island and partially capsized in shallow water just outside Giglio's main harbour.
The disaster claimed the lives of 32 people, including a five-year-old girl.
Prosecutors believe the delay cost lives because by the time the ship had rolled over, it was impossible to launch many of the life boats and people were forced to jump into the water or clamber down the hull.
"Capt Schettino had just 45 minutes, in the middle of great adversity, to decide on the fate of more than 4,000 people, on how to save their lives. He is not an armchair sailor, he knew how to read the winds and the currents," said Domenico Pepe, one of his lawyers.
A verdict in the trial, which began in July 2013, is expected this week. Prosecutors have asked the three judges presiding over the case to convict the 54-year-old. (© Daily Telegraph London)