Cocaine found on cruise ship captain's hair


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The Independent Online

Experts and lawyers representing survivors of the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship want further drug tests on the ship's captain after the discovery of cocaine on the outside of a hair sample. A forensic analyst involved in the case reportedly described the finding as no more than a "marginal problem". The full test results given to investigators show that the drug was not found within his hair or in his urine, which would have indicated that he had used it.

But lawyers want clarification, claiming the samples from Captain Francesco Schettino may have been contaminated or mislabelled. The Italian consumer protection group Codacons is representing some survivors from the shipwreck of the cruise liner, which rammed a reef near a Tuscan island on the night of 13 January. It called the findings "very strange". The group's spokesman, Stefano Zerbi, said Codacons was raising the possibility with prosecutors that samples had been poorly preserved, leading to the confusing results. Under Italian law, those attaching civil suits to a criminal case must be informed of, and allowed to monitor, evidence and other developments in the probe.

Prosecutors are investigating Captain Schettino for alleged manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship before all passengers and crew were evacuated. Up to 32 people are believed to have died, including 15 whose bodies have not been found.

The Costa Concordia's hull was pierced by the reef after the ship cruised close to the island of Giglio. Captain Schettino has claimed that the reef was not on maritime maps, but the reef is well known to sailors. He also insisted that he didn't abandon the cruise liner.