'Captain Coward' parties as shipwreck is moved

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Francesco Schettino is facing charges of manslaughter and abandoning a ship. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP
15:08 CEST+02:00
The captain of Costa Concordia, which sunk off the Tuscan coast in January 2012, killing 32 people, partied on the island of Ischia on Monday night as the ship prepared to be towed away.

Francesco Schettino, on trial for manslaughter and for abandoning the ship, was “guest of honour” at the exclusive “White Party”, an annual event hosted on the Bay of Naples island by Italian businessman Piero Graus at which all guests wear white.

Wearing a white shirt, Schettino was pictured on Tuesday on the front page of the local daily, Il Golfo, flanked by women.

He reportedly fled to the island to “escape the media” as the Costa Concordia is prepared to be towed away from Giglio on Wednesday.

The ship will be taken to a scrap yard in the northern Italian port of Genoa.

Over the weekend vast air tanks attached to the ship's sides raised the vessel deck by deck above the waves, and by Monday gaping windows, a rust-tainted bow and the faded Costa Concordia emblem on its flanks could be clearly seen.

The luxury liner crashed into the island on the night of January 13 2012 with 4,229 people from 70 countries on board in a disaster that claimed 32 lives. It keeled over with a massive gash in its hull, prompting a panicky evacuation.

Dubbed ‘Captain Coward’ in the Italian media, Schettino denies the charges against him, saying during a hearing in April that he thought he “hit a little rock”.

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In fact, the ship was slashed open 50 metres along its submerged hull by a rock shelf off Giglio Island, causing it to list, then quickly capsize.

During a visit to the ship as part of the trial in February, the 53-year-old said: "They want to show that I am weak, just like two years ago. It's not true. I want to show I'm a gentleman, not a coward.”

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