The young woman who, reports suggest, may have proved a distraction for the captain of the Costa Concordia liner as it ran aground three weeks ago with the loss of 32 lives, said she is "in love" with the disgraced officer.
Domnica Cemortan, 24, from Moldova, pictured, has also confirmed she was with Captain Francesco Schettino, 52, when the cruise ship tore a 50-metre hole in its side as it hit rocks near Giglio island on 13 January.
"Yes it's true I was on the bridge as the captain's guest... during the collision with the rocks," she said during a five-hour grilling by prosecutors in Grosseto, details of which were leaked yesterday. She added: "I'm in love with Captain Schettino."
It also emerged that divers retrieved her personal belongings from the cabin of Mr Schettino, who is married with a teenage daughter. Previously, Ms Cemortan said she had only been called to the ship's bridge after the accident to translate vital information that officers wanted to relay to Russian passengers.
Observers noted the implausibility of this excuse given the dearth of useful emergency information provided even in English or Italian.
Ms Cemortan soon emerged as a key witness to events as surviving passengers came forward to say that both she and the captain had dined together, with Mr Schettino consuming "several glasses" of wine shortly before the collision. He is accused of manslaughter and abandoning ship before his passengers. He denies drinking that night. An alcohol and drugs test has been performed on Mr Schettino, but the results have yet to be announced.
The prosecutor was not available to comment.
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