30 Oct 2013

Captain's lover was on Costa Concordia bridge

12:17 pm on 30 October 2013

At the trial of the captain of the ill fated Costa Concordia, a Moldovan dancer who was on the bridge with Captain Francesco Schettino at the time the cruise ship ran aground has admitted she was his lover.

There has been media speculation that the presence of Domnica Cemortan may have distracted the captain.

Captain Schettino faces multiple charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship and faces 20 years in prison if convicted.

The January 2012 tragedy killed 32 people.

Ms Cemortan has been the subject of intense media interest, the BBC reports.

On the night the Costa Concordia ran aground, she had dinner with the captain before he invited her to join him on the bridge as he oversaw what was meant to be a close sail-past of the little Tuscan island of Giglio.

Local press have speculated the captain may have been distracted by her presence, or even showing off.

In court, Ms Cemortan acknowledged after being pressed that they had been romantically involved. She had boarded the ship as a non-paying passenger hours before the crash, she said.

She said she had worked for the company that operated the Costa Concordia for about three weeks in December 2011, and had met Captain Schettino on a previous cruise.

After the ship hit the rocks, Ms Cemortan said the captain urged her to "save herself".

She told court that she helped other passengers to abandon ship before getting into a lifeboat herself.