Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino sparks outrage by giving seminar at Sapienza Rome university

Schettino was allegedly invited to speak by a university professor

The Sapienza University of Rome has found itself at the centre of controversy after it emerged Francesco Schettino, the captain of the doomed Costa Concordia, was invited to speak at an event organised by a university professor on 'managing panic'.

Italian newspaper La Nazione reports that Schettino, currently on trial for charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship, described himself an “expert” on panic management in times of crisis as he spoke at the end of a limited access session held off the campus and organised by professor Vincenzo Mastronardi who teaches at the University’s Faculty of Medicine.

Schettino, who allegedly refused repeated orders to get back on the Concordia while as many as 300 passengers remained trapped on board, spoke after a 3D reconstruction of the sinking of the ship was shown.

He allegedly told the newspaper: “I was invited as an expert - I know how you behave in these situations. Besides, I have travelled in all the seas of the world, I know how you are supposed to react with ethnically diverse crews."

Schettino also reportedly claimed there are academic studies comparing the maritime disaster to other tragedies, such as the 9/11 attacks in America. He apparently asked: “How is it during the attack on the Twin Towers, there were people who threw themselves from the windows, but during the sinking of the Concordia, no-one did anything of a similar kind?”

Thirty-two people died when the ship hit a reef near the Tuscan island of Giglio in 2012 and ran aground. A two year salvage operation, one of the biggest ever in maritime history, entered its final stages in July. The total cost is expected to hit 1.5bn euros (£1.2bn; $2bn).

Schettino is being tried by a court in Grosseto, Tuscany on a number of charges, including manslaughter, all of which he denies. He insists the reef was not on the ship's navigational charts and that he helped direct the evacuation after reaching land. If found guilty he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Luigi Frati, the Dean of the University, condemned Schettino’s presence at the event as "shameful and inopportune", adding that Mr Mastronardi has been referred to an ethics committee by the university.

La Sapienza University released a statement distancing itself from the seminar, which it described as a "grave episode", and said it had been immediately referred to the ethics committee for evaluation and possible disciplinary proceedings.

In a strongly worded statement, it added: “It is precisely this programme which exacerbates the gravity of the situation for the institutions (both the University and the Air Force) due to the absence of any contradictory point of view (it would have been interesting to have one of the passengers or a relative of one of the deceased). 

"The academic liberty which university professors enjoy also imposes on them a duty to be responsible, precisely because this is an educationally established community."

Video: Costa Concordia taken to be scrapped

Mr Mastronardi defended Schettino's presence to the Italian edition of Wired, arguing it was not a master class, nor part of any university study programme, but simply a free-standing limited access event attended only by experts and where Schettino had only made a very brief appearance.

Mr Mastronardi also said he had chosen the Aviator Club as a venue that does not formally belong to the University in order to keep it quite "separate it from the University context".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Instructional Training Designer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic and interes...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse & Stores Supervisor

£16224 - £20280 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Warehouse & Stores Supervisor...

Recruitment Genius: Windows 3rd Line System Administrator

£35000 - £39000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Lifting Equipment Service / Installation Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Lifting Equipment Service/Ins...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen