Saturday 16 December 2017

Costa Concordia: Mystery over Captain's lover deepens as relative denies relationship

Domnica Cemortan
Domnica Cemortan

Nick Squires

THE MYSTERY over the involvement of Moldovan dancer Domnica Cemortan in the Costa Concordia disaster has deepened after one of her relatives denied reports that the young woman was in a relationship with the ship's captain.

Cemortan, 25, reportedly told investigators last week that she was "in love" with Capt Francesco Schettino, as it emerged that search and rescue divers had found her lingerie, clothing and make-up bag in his cabin.

But in an interview with Italian television, her aunt insisted that there was no romantic relationship between the two.

"Was my niece Schettino's lover? I really think not. A lot of things in this whole business have been misinterpreted," said Lucica Cemortan Gurina.

"Show me a passenger who took a photo of the two of them caressing, embracing or kissing. I don't believe there is one."

She said her niece certainly "admired" Capt Schettino, whom she met when she worked on the Costa Concordia as a crew member.

"Maybe Domnica saw something in him that she wasn't able to find in others, namely friendship."

Mrs Gurina said her niece had been badly affected by the death of her father, who drowned in 1996.

Ms Cemortan was interviewed for nearly six hours last week by prosecutors in a police station in Grosseto, Tuscany, where the investigation into the January 13 accident is based.

They want to know whether she was on the bridge at the time that the Concordia rammed into rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio, and whether her presence may have distracted the captain and his officers.

On Thursday a court in Florence will decide whether Capt Schettino, 52, should remain under house arrest, be released on bail or – as prosecutors have asked – sent to prison pending the outcome of the investigation.

A mass will be held for the victims of the disaster on Sunday in Rome.

The mass, in the Basilica of Santa Maria of the Angels and Martyrs, will be led by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the president of the Italian Bishops' Conference.

It will be attended by Giorgio Napolitano, Italy's president, and broadcast live on state television.

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