lunedì 28 aprile 2014

Costa Concordia called police motorboat asking to be towed

Testimony questions captain's state of mind during fatal crash

(ANSA) - Grosseto, April 28 - The Costa Concordia called Italian finance police for a patrol boat to tow the massive cruise ship just after smashing in 2012, a high-ranking police officer on Monday told a court in the port city of Grosseto. Officers on board the police motorboat, one of many used by Italian finance police for law enforcement along Italian coasts, commented with irony that it was difficult for a small patrol boat to tow the massive, 290-metre cruise ship, said Andrea Lachi, head of Grosseto's provincial command of the Carabinieri paramilitary police.

Lachi was called to testify at the trial of ex-captain Francesco Schettino, who is accused of multiple manslaughter and dereliction of duty with an account expected to cast doubt on Schettino's state of mind during the disaster that cost 32 lives and forced the evacuation of 4,900 passengers and crew on January 13, 2012. Schettino's defense lawyer Donato Laino later told journalists, "Commander Schettino did not ask the (finance police) motorboat to tow the Concordia but asked for intervention to stabilize the prow with a cable," since towing the massive ship would be impossible. The lawyer criticized Lachi's testimony as "his interpretation of the circumstances". A wiretapped conversation between engineer Hugo Di Piazza and a friend describing the disaster was also played on Monday to the panel of judges.

Lawyers for passengers on the cruise ship said it illustrated "the error of the ship crew" who they claim sent people in harm's way to the side of the ship that inclined and "was where the most of the deaths took place". "There were people who fell in the water, there were those who swam, other people who banged from one side of the ship to the other like a game of pinball. They weren't just the passengers, there were others of the crew too, like the Filipinos," said Di Piazza in the recorded conversation. 

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