Concordia captain’s defense tries to portray him as a hero

Written By kom nampuldu on Selasa, 10 Februari 2015 | 18.18

Costa Concordia skipper Francesco Schettino, the so-called "Chicken of the Sea," didn't kill 32 people — he heroically saved more than 4,000 passengers and crew, defense lawyers boasted on Monday.

"If he had given the order to abandon ship right away, a kilometer from the coast, the ship would have been uncontrollable," attorney Domenico Pepe told an Italian court.

"Not all the lifeboats would have reached the water intact," he added. "More than 4,000 people could have died."

Prosecutors claim the man dubbed "Captain Coward" is solely responsible for the deaths of 32 people on Jan. 13, 2012, when the Costa Concordia rammed into rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio.

Schettino faces at least 26 years behind bars for allegedly causing the cruise-ship disaster, but his attorney claims he is a scapegoat who should instead be lauded for his actions that day.

"His decision ensured that the vast majority were saved," Pepe said. "He is not an armchair sailor. He knew how to read the winds and the currents."

Prosecutors, meanwhile, allege that Schettino's "cowardly" management of the emergency, including fleeing the boat as passengers panicked, directly led to the loss of life.

But as the 19-month trial comes to a close this week, Pepe was quick to blast that theory on Monday.

"Captain Schettino had just 45 minutes, in the middle of great adversity, to decide on the fate of more than 4,000 people, on how to save their lives," he insisted. "It was a terrible accident, which can happen at sea."

Schettino is charged with abandoning ship, causing a maritime disaster and multiple counts of manslaughter.


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