Disaster “Costa Concordia”: What does Francesco Schettino do?

“Costa Concordia” disaster
What does Francesco Schettino actually do?

By Solveig Bach

A captain is the last to leave the sinking ship or he does the Schettino – and is the first to sit in the lifeboat. Ten years after the events, the captain of the damaged “Costa Concordia” still struggles with the label of coward.

Dramatic scenes unfold on January 13, 2012 off the island of Giglio. The “Costa Concordia” runs aground on a rock and leaks. The cruise ship, which had a journey of several days ahead of it across the western Mediterranean, is completely ungovernable, the wind is pushing it towards the island, every minute it is sinking more and filling with water. 4229 people are on board who must be brought to safety. 32 of them will not make it.

One of the first to sit in the lifeboat was then 51-year-old Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino. It violates one of the iron laws of navigation – the captain is the last to leave the sinking ship. Ten years have passed since then. Schettino was sentenced to prison in February 2015, which he is still serving today. The sentence of 16 years and one month’s imprisonment consists of five years for negligently causing the accident, ten years for multiple negligent manslaughters with negligent bodily harm, and one year for leaving needy people behind at the same time. time that abandoned ship prematurely. . There is also a month of arrest due to insufficient communication with the authorities.

Shortly before the anniversary of the crash, Schettino surprisingly spoke from Rebibbia prison in Rome. The 61-year-old gave an interview to the newspaper “La Stampa”. “People can’t believe it, but I’m having nightmares,” he said. Schettino stresses that he has not forgotten the victims of the “Concordia”. Twelve Germans, seven Italians, six French, two Peruvians, two American citizens and one Indian, one Spaniard and one Hungarian died in the ship, the remains of the last victim were not found until the ship was scrapped in 2014 .

A castaway too?

Most people now associate the “Costa Concordia” with this image.

(Photo: picture alliance / AP Photo)

“Commander Schettino, says his lawyer, is undergoing psychotherapy, it’s not easy for him. Deep down, he too is a castaway, he can’t stop thinking about that damn night and the 32 dead.” Above all, Schettino has compassion for himself. “But I also don’t forget that I was treated like a scapegoat,” he told ‘La Stampa’. But it’s not normal that he is the only one to pay for it. “They wanted to find a culprit, not the truth,” agrees Schettino’s lawyer. Thus, the 61-year-old man still worries today that of all the defendants, only he ended up behind bars. The European Court of Human Rights, to which Schettino appealed his detention in 2018, plans to hear the case this year.

According to prison chaplain Don Lucio Boldrin, the former captain is using his time in prison to study journalism and law. Schettino therefore notes that he had become “victim of a media trial” even before the legal proceedings. His client wants to understand how he became a “target” for the media, explains his lawyer. Schettino doesn’t want to waste his time in prison, Pastor Boldrin says, describing the prisoner’s motivation. So he plays sports, reads in English and contributes to the prison newspaper.

Schettino’s stay at Rebibbia could end soon. After serving a third of his sentence on May 17, a release would be possible, he would then have to spend the rest of the sentence under house arrest. In any case, his behavior as a prisoner is no obstacle. Prison chaplain Boldrin calls Schettino a model inmate. “He’s very kind to the other inmates, and he never lets them resent the role he played before his arrest.” The other prison inmates adored Schettino.

Make the schettino

The burden of that night off the island of Giglio, when the “Costa Concordia” sank, should not be easily shaken off by the hapless captain in years to come. According to the investigations, Schettino sailed too close to the island of Giglio, even though he did not have detailed maps of the coastal area on board.

After the collision at 9:45 p.m., it also took far too long for the evacuation to begin. The coast guard learned of the incident only by chance and at 22:14 the “Costa Concordia” only confirmed a power failure. In the process, the experts came to the clear conclusion that it was only thanks to the concerted rescue operation with several island and large ferries as well as helicopters and the fact that the wind pushed the ship to the island. and not in the open sea that no more people died.

At the time, Gregorio de Falco was an Italian Coastguard officer in Livorno and responsible for the accident area. He’d said to Schettino in the lifeboat, “Get on board, damn it!” Its conclusion ten years later in relation to “La Stampa” is devastating. If Schettino had stayed on board, “he could have saved many lives, including his own”. But as it stands, “Fare lo Schettino”, which Schettino does, has become synonymous with particular cowardice in Italy.

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