A Moldovan dancer — the ‘mysterious’ blonde seen by passengers on the Costa Concordia bridge with Captain Francesco Schettino — has admitted to being in love with the Italian captain, The Telegraph reports.
“I love him, and it’s not right to destroy his reputation,” Domnica Cemortan, 25, allegedly told investigators, La Stampa reports. “Everyone is hammering him.”
Cemortan was interviewed for nearly six hours on Wednesday by prosecutors in a police station in Grosseto, Tuscany. She admitted to being on the bridge with Schettino, 52, moments before the collision, and investigators believe her testimony could be valuable in establishing exactly what happened and whether the captain was distracted.
Cemortan, a former Costa Cruises passenger rep, is not being accused of any offence.
Cemortan said that although she found Schettino — who has a wife and teenage daughter — “charming”, she denies that the two were having an affair, claiming that he had repeatedly shown her pictures of his daughter.
This is in contrast to the discovery by police divers of some of Cemortan’s clothing in Schettino’s cabin, La Repubblica reports. She did not have her own cabin on the ship.
In an interview with AFP earlier, she said that she had been dining with friends when the accident happened. Schettino had told investigators that there was no-one apart from authorised staff on the bridge.
However, Cemortan has now confirmed to prosecutors that the captain had invited her up onto the bridge as his guest (she was seen sharing a decanter of wine with Schettino), to see the ship perform a ‘salute’ of the island of Giglio.
The captain misjudged the manoeuvre and smashed into a rocky shoal, ripping a huge hole in the hull.
Cemortan is expected to be questioned again at a later stage, and a preliminary hearing could be held next month, The Daily Mail reports.
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