ROME - Already accused of steering Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia toward disaster and abandoning his post as passengers died, Captain Francesco Schettino is now facing another round of allegations - this time linked to drug use and prostitution.
Among their some 5,000 pages of court documents in the case of January's disaster, Italian prosecutors cite accusations that women were treated as merchandise and Costa cruise line employees openly used cocaine on the ships that Schettino helmed in the past, La Stampa has learned.
Investigators in the Tuscan city of Grosetto have already formally accused Schettino of bringing the giant vessel too close to the coast of Giglio island, causing it to crash. He is also charged with leaving his post before the evacuation of more than 4,200 passengers. At least 25 people were killed in the Jan. 13 crash. Schettino denies any wrongdoing.
But now, accusations have emerged from past employees that describe widespread illegal and unsafe behavior on Schettinos ships. In a document submitted to the Italian Justice ministry, a former nurse told a Costa personnel officer that when she worked on the Costa Atlantica with Schettino as captain, from Jan. 9 to Feb. 12, she found corruption, drugs and prostitution. The same nurse worked on three different ships in the Costa line one worse than the other.
Another former employee, cited as Mery G., wrote directly to the top security official of Grosseto, Giuseppe Linardi, to denounce the behavior of officers and crew on Schettino ships. I worked on Costa Concordia for two months in 2010 Officers and crew were often drunk. We would say to each other 'If there was an emergency who would save the ship?'"
Schettino was not found to have traces of drugs or alcohol the night of the January accident.
Senior Costa cruise line officials, some of whom have been charged in connection with the accident, have been facing another major problem this week after a fire on board cut power on the Costa Allegra ship off the Seychelles. After several days of drifting in the open sea, the ship reached land, with no casualties.
Read the full original article in Italian by Grazia Longo
*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations