‘Capt. Coward’ escorted back to Costa Concordia
ROME — Francesco Schettino, the captain of the Costa Concordia, went back on board the liner Thursday for the first time since it capsized two years ago, and continued to insist that the disaster wasn’t his fault.
Schettino is on trial for manslaughter and abandoning ship after 32 people died when the ship struck rocks off the island of Giglio on Jan. 13, 2012. On Thursday, he was escorted by police officers as he boarded a small launch that took him from Giglio’s harbour to the hulk of the 290-metre liner.
The 53-year-old captain was allowed back on board the ship to take part in an inspection by technical experts involved in his trial, which is taking place in the nearby Tuscan city of Grosseto.
The experts examined the ship’s emergency generators, which Schettino insists failed to work properly in the minutes after the Concordia struck the rocks.
Residents of Giglio, whose island has been transformed in the aftermath of the disaster by the arrival of hundreds of foreign salvage experts, reacted with a mixture of curiosity and hostility to the return of the man dubbed “Captain Coward” by the Italian media.
“Captain, you are a national disgrace,” read one banner held by a group of protesters.
Schettino said he had given “indications that will help the experts decide how to divvy up the responsibility” for the tragedy.
“I didn’t flee — I co-ordinated the rescue effort from the shore. It’s like a traffic accident — you don’t stand in the middle of the road, you move to the pavement and call for help.”