Costa Concordia captain 'poised to sell story in €100,000 deals'


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The Independent Online

What price crashing a luxury cruise liner and sending 32 passengers to a watery grave? Survivors of the Costa Concordia disaster are probably hoping that in Captain Francesco Schettino's case, it will be a very long time in prison.

But the captain, who is suspected of multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship ahead of his passengers, has other ideas. According to Italian press reports, €100,000 might be a starting point. And grotesquely, Mr Schettino intends to be the beneficiary.

The disgraced seaman, who told magistrates his premature escape from his 1,000ft liner came about accidentally when he "tripped" into a life boat, is said to be negotiating two €50,000 interviews, one with a TV channel and another with a news magazine.

Mr Schettino's lawyer Paul Bastianini confirmed to La Stampa, that lucrative deals were currently being brokered on behalf of his client. "There are no signed agreements yet. We want to maximise the interests of Captain Schettino so that the two exclusives go out together in order that one doesn't devalue the other," he said. The news follows unconfirmed rumours that a US publisher was looking into a book deal with Mr Schettino.

Carlo Rienzi, the president of the Codacons consumer group which is leading a class action against Costa Cruises, the owners of the Concordia, told The Independent: "Every euro Mr Schettino earns, we'll try take off him and give it to the survivors and families of those who've lost loved ones."

The scope of Mr Schettino's financial liability resulting from the accident is potentially huge.

On Thursday this week an Italian judge lifted the house arrest order against him, but said Mr Schettino must remain in his home town near Naples while the criminal investigation into the disaster continues.

Prosecutors and the ship's owners say he was sailing the huge vessel dangerously close to the island of Giglio on the evening of 13 January when it slammed into a reef.

But Mr Schettino this week produced a self-aggrandising rather than contrite version of events, claiming that his sailing know-how and "intuition", abetted by divine intervention, had caused him to change course at the last moment and prevent a much greater loss of life.

"At that moment a divine hand definitely landed on my head," he said. "If I had continued on that route, we would have hit the rock with the bow. It would have been a massacre."