Costa Concordia trial: Dancer Domnica Cemortan admits Captain Francesco Schettino was her lover and tells court she was on ship's bridge when it capsized

 

Milan

Captain Francesco Schettino, the man accused of causing the Costa Concordia disaster, was entertaining his young lover – against the rules – on the ship’s bridge when the giant vessel struck a reef off the Italian coast, it emerged.

His former lover, the Moldavian dancer Domnica Cemortan, 26, admitted to an Italian court she was having an affair with the married 53-year-old captain, who is accused of allowing his showboating behaviour to cost the lives of 32 people after the giant vessel partially capsized off the island of Giglio in January 2012.

Prosecutors have alleged that the large number of superfluous people on the bridge at the time of the collision, particularly the presence of Ms Cemortan, “generated confusion and distraction for the captain”.

Previously, Ms Cemortan has said she had only been called up to the ship’s bridge after the accident in order to translate vital information that officers wanted to relay to Russian passengers.

However, under sustained questioning by a lawyer representing victims of the disaster, and after being threatened with contempt of court by the judge, Ms Cemortan said: “Yes I had an affair with the captain.” She also admitted through her interpreter that she was not on the official passenger list and was not in possession of a ticket, noting that her relationship with the captain had allowed her on board.

Captain Schettino, who has blamed his helmsman for the collision, is on trial for multiple manslaughter and causing a shipwreck.

The court heard that Captain Schettino had made a similar sail-by, very close to the island off the Tuscan coast, a week before the accident.

Antonello Tievoli, a ship’s waiter, said he had asked the captain to sail close to Giglio to salute his family who lived there. “The night of 6 January, I asked the commander if he could move closer to the island than usual, since we were still in the Christmas holidays. And he agreed, but was not satisfied with the distance. He thought it wasn’t close enough. He asked his second in command Ciro Ambrosio to repeat it the following week.”

Costa Concordia Captain Francesco Schettino (AP) Costa Concordia Captain Francesco Schettino (AP)

Ms Cemortan has defended Captain Schettino’s actions after the crash, portraying him as an officer in control of the situation. This notion was undermined, however, by the emergence of a video suggesting the reaction of officers on the bridge after the collision veered from initial complacency to panic.

Another of the ship’s waiting staff, Ciro Onorato, who had been invited to the bridge on the night of the crash, told the court that he went back down to the restaurant to help the passengers, but was then recalled to the bridge by Captain Schettino, who was already wearing a life jacket over his uniform. The captain told him: “Don’t leave me.”

Captain Schettino is also charged with abandoning ship before his passengers. He claims he slipped and fell into a lifeboat from which he was unable to extract himself.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: On behalf of a successful academy i...

Investigo: Finance Business Partner

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in providing ...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - West London

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...

Recruitment Genius: Florist Shop Manager

£8 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A Florist Shop Manager is required to m...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project