Thursday 19 April 2018

'He's a man, not a boy' - Moldovan dancer denies she distracted Costa Concordia captain ahead of crash

Domnica Cemortan, 26, had dinner with Capt Schettino, 53, in a restaurant on board the cruise liner and was then invited onto the bridge by him, about 15 minutes before the ship smashed into rocks, a collision that prompted a panic-stricken evacuatio
Domnica Cemortan, 26, had dinner with Capt Schettino, 53, in a restaurant on board the cruise liner and was then invited onto the bridge by him, about 15 minutes before the ship smashed into rocks, a collision that prompted a panic-stricken evacuatio

Nick Squires

The Moldovan dancer who admitted having an affair with Capt Francesco Schettino, the commander of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, has insisted her presence on the bridge did not distract him on the night that the liner ploughed into the island of Giglio.

Domnica Cemortan, 26, had dinner with Capt Schettino, 53, in a restaurant on board the cruise liner and was then invited onto the bridge by him, about 15 minutes before the ship smashed into rocks, a collision that prompted a panic-stricken evacuation.

“It’s very easy for Italians to think that the blonde, the Moldovan dancer, distracted the captain. But I didn’t,” the single mother of one told an Italian television programme on Sunday.

Ms Cemortan had publicly and repeatedly denied having a relationship with the married captain but was forced to admit the affair last week under intense cross-examination in a court in Grosseto, Tuscany, where Capt Schettino is on trial for manslaughter, causing a maritime disaster and abandoning ship before all of its 4,200 passengers and crew had been evacuated.

She told the programme, Domenica Live (Sunday Live) that she felt sorry for Capt Schettino’s wife, but that he knew what he was doing when the pair embarked on a two-week fling on the Concordia the month before the accident.

“With regard to his wife and family, I don’t consider myself the only person responsible.

“He’s a man, not a boy.”

She insisted their affair had “nothing to do with the accident” and should have remained a private matter.

Ms Cemortan claimed the relationship should not be called an “affair” because it was so brief.

“Being someone’s lover means having a relationship lasting six months, not two weeks. My relationship with him began a week after I joined the Concordia. He was charming, an elegant man. But I don’t think I’ll ever get involved with a married man again.”

It was deeply unfair that Capt Schettino was the only person facing criminal charges for the accident of Jan 13, 2012, which caused the deaths of 32 people, she said.

Five other ship’s officers and employees of Costa Cruises, the Italian owner of the liner, were convicted of manslaughter earlier this year but struck plea bargains in which they were each sentenced to less than three years in prison.

“How can one person be responsible for an accident like this?” Ms Cemortan asked. “Schettino is the only one in the dock, what about the other officers?”

Costa Cruises, Europe’s biggest cruise operator and a subsidiary of US-based Carnival Corp, negotiated a plea bargain in which it accepted limited responsibility and paid a one million euro fine.

Capt Schettino’s trial resumes on Nov 11.

Telegraph.co.uk

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