Yesterday, we discussed Captain Schettino's paid interview with an Italian news station where he blamed a junior officer for the Concordia disaster, claiming that he entered the bridge only after the cruise ship hit the rocks. He says that he ordered the navigation to be manual in an effort to save the ship.
But today, investigators have leaked information to the Italian press which directly contradict Schettino's "I-didn't-do-it" excuse. The ship's "black box" shows that Schettino disabled the automatic pilot and took control of the ship at 9:39 PM that night - six minutes before the collision at 9:45 p.m. (photo shows Italian Coast Guard recovering black box from cruise ship).
The Corriere della Sera newspaper obtained the black box audio recordings which revealed panic on the Concordia's bridge.
According to the Vancouver Sun, an unidentified officer yelled: "Our ass is dragging along the seabed!." Schettino responded: "What did we hit?" to which the officer replied: "The reef."
Another officer said: "It was the salute that he wanted," apparently referring to the "sail by" Schettino tried to perform. At 9:56 PM Schettino telephoned Roberto Ferrarini, an officer at Costa Cruises:
"Roberto, I f-- up!" he said, according to the transcript. "Look, I'm dying here, don't tell me anything."
In the U.S., statements like this are called "excited utterances" and are admissible as evidence to show the defendant's state of mind at the time (before a defendant can begin to plot and scheme and come up with an excuse).
A preliminary hearing remains scheduled for July 21, 2012 where additional technical information will be submitted to the presiding Italian judge.
Photo credit: Reuters