Costa Concordia captain faces questions about lifeboat video

Costa Concordia captain speaks in court
Costa Concordia captain speaks in court

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Story highlights

  • Video appears to show Francesco Schettino climbing into a lifeboat from the ship
  • The ship's captain has previously said he was thrown off the listing cruise liner
  • Schettino denies manslaughter, causing a maritime disaster and abandoning ship charges
  • Thirty-two people died after the Costa Concordia hit rocks and capsized off Italy's coast
A damning new video shown Wednesday at the trial of Francesco Schettino, captain of the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner, appears to show him boarding a lifeboat with passengers still clearly on board the doomed ship.
It was presented to the court as Schettino took the stand for a second day.
Schettino's lawyer, Domenico Pepe, asked the court not to admit the fuzzy videotape that appeared to show the captain getting onto a lifeboat from the ship's bow wearing the same jacket and tie he had on at dinner before the ship crashed.
But the judge ruled that Schettino could be questioned about it.
The captain has previously said he was thrown off the cruise liner into a lifeboat as the ship listed sharply.
Morning testimony focused on the chain of command aboard the doomed cruise liner, with Schettino admitting to the court that his aim in sailing close to Giglio -- leading the ship to hit rocks -- was to "impress the passengers."
Earlier, he had denied that the ill-fated maneuver was to impress Moldovan dancer Domnica Cemortan.
'I didn't want to cause a panic'
On Tuesday, he blamed others for failures that led to the crash and 32 deaths, but on Wednesday, he said the ship was his responsibility alone. "As commander, I was second only to God," he told the court.
Schettino was pressed about why he waited more than an hour to give the order to abandon the ship, even though it was clearly an emergency situation with the engine rooms flooded and the ship listing.
He told the court, "I wanted to calm the passengers, I didn't want to cause a panic and have people start jumping into the water."
When pressed further, he said, "I waited to give the general emergency because I knew exactly how the ship would drift. I know the Concordia well. I wanted to make sure that the ship was closer to the island and then give the general emergency. The damage was already done."
Referring to his crew, he said, "I had 600 people who had never done a similar exercise with a ship in this position since the rules do not require it.
"And the words 'abandon ship' can be open to interpretation: Maybe people would jump into the sea. Instead, seeing that the ship was approaching the island anyway, I waited."
Captain confident about trial
Schettino -- who is charged with manslaughter, causing a maritime disaster and abandoning ship with passengers still on board -- denies wrongdoing. He faces up to 23 years in prison if convicted.
On Tuesday, he was defiant and combative as he answered the prosecutor's questions in a makeshift courtroom in the Teatro Moderno in the Tuscan town of Grosseto.
Speaking to CNN during a court break, he said he was "confident" about the way the trial was going.
"It is exhausting, but I think it is going well," Schettino said. "It is important because this is the only chance I have to tell my version of events."
The cruise liner capsized after it struck rocks off Italy's Giglio Island in the Tyrrhenian Sea on January 12, 2012. No one died on impact, but 32 lives were lost during the subsequent chaotic evacuation of about 4,200 people aboard the ship.