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Costa Concordia captain lowers gaze during phone tapes

'Get back on board, dammit' recording played at trial

09 December, 15:51
Costa Concordia captain lowers gaze during phone tapes (see previous) (ANSA) - Grosseto, December 9 - The captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which crashed into rocks off the coast of Tuscany in early 2012 and killed 32 people, lowered his gaze Monday in court as a recording was played of a heated phone conversation the night of the wreck between him and the port authority chief.

"Get back on board, dammit," the order made by coastguard commander Gregorio De Falco to Captain Francesco Schiettino, was heard in the Tuscan courtroom as Schettino lowered his gaze and waved a sheet of paper about as he spoke to one of his lawyers.

Schettino is on trial for multiple manslaughter and dereliction of duty for his role in the crash of the 290-metre, 450-million-euro cruise ship carrying 4,200 passengers.

As passengers fled the sinking ship, De Falco ordered Schettino to get back on board to coordinate the rescue of passengers, the recording of which became a memorable sound byte in news reports. Schettino says he "tripped and fell" into a lifeboat. He spoke frequently with his defense team as De Falco told his version of events on the witness stand, shaking his head and smiling nervously during the most heated telephone calls with the port authority chief. The captain has repeatedly insisted on his innocence, and on having prevented a worse disaster than what occurred.

He is suing to get his job back after being dismissed by Costa Cruises.

The disaster occurred when an allegedly rash maneuver by Schettino resulted in the Concordia hitting a rock reef as the ship sailed close to Giglio Island to 'salute' local people.