Captain slams 'frenzy' on return to shipwreck

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Francesco Schettino went back on board the Costa Concordia on Thursday 27th February. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
16:13 CET+01:00
Italian captain Francesco Schettino lashed out at a media "frenzy" on Thursday after his first return to the Costa Concordia, saying people who accused him of abandoning the ship had not understood "a bloody thing".

"There is a frenzy that is making me nervous," Schettino told reporters in the port on Giglio Island off Tuscany where his luxury cruise liner crashed on January 13th 2012 in a tragedy that claimed 32 lives.

"You have to respect civility. I don't have anything against you but if you provoke me," the infamous captain said in increasingly angry remarks accompanied by gesticulation and nervous pacing on the dockside.

Asked why he had left the ship before all the passengers had been evacuated, Schettino shouted: "You're still talking about abandoning the ship! It means you haven't understood a bloody thing!"

Francesco Schettino arrives at a hotel in Giglio Porto on Giglio Island earlier today. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP 

Schettino's visit was part of a court-ordered inspection in the ongoing trial against him for manslaughter and abandoning ship - a charge that earned him the tabloid nickname "Captain Coward".

In a recorded phone call from that dramatic night, a senior coast guard official was heard shouting at Schettino: "Get back on board, for fuck's sake!"

Schettino says that he fell onto a lifeboat as the ship keeled over and then stayed on dry land because he wanted to coordinate the evacuation from there.

"The ship contains a lot of little secrets. We have to understand what happened in a proper and honest way," said Schettino, who had his hair slicked back and was dressed in sunglasses and a leather jacket.

"Other people have plea-bargained but I'm putting my face here!" Schettino said, touching his face, using an Italian expression for making a personal commitment.

Schettino, who was himself refused a plea bargain, said: "The trial will clear everything up".

Five people including Roberto Ferrarini, the director of ship owner Costa Crociere's crisis unit, and Jacob Rusli Bin, the Indonesian helmsman, have plea-bargained.

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Explaining his delay in giving the order for the evacuation of the ship, Schettino said it was done to "avoid panic" among the 4,229 people on board.

"You have to put yourself in people's shoes at the time it happened," Schettino said, explaining that he had given "precise indications" to the technical experts during a more than three-hour tour of the ship.

READ MORE: Disgraced captain to board cruise ship wreck

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