Rome: A Moldovan woman has told an Italian court she was the lover of the Costa Concordia captain, and was on the cruise liner's bridge when it crashed last year.
In the aftermath of the January 13 shipwreck that left 32 people dead, questions were asked about the presence on board of 26-year-old Domnica Cemortan whose belongings were found in Captain Francesco Schettino's cabin.
"Yes, I had an affair with Francesco Schettino. But we did not see each other again after the shipwreck," Ms Cemortan told judges in Grosseto, where Captain Schettino is being tried for manslaughter.
Domnica Cemortan leaves court after testifying that she was on the bridge of the Costa Concordia with Captain Francesco Schettino when it crashed, killing 32 people. Photo: AP
Asked why she was not officially registered, she replied: "When you are someone's lover, they don't ask you for a ticket."
Ms Cemontan's testimony is likely to reinforce perceptions that Captain Schettino's conduct during the fatal cruise was less than professional.
On the night of the disaster, Ms Cemortan said she was dining with the captain and was later invited to the bridge.
Costa Concordia's captain Francesco Schettino, left, prepares for his trial for manslaughter. Photo: AFP
She witnessed the moments before the Concordia hit a reef near the island of Giglio.
"I did not see anything because it was dark, then there was silence and he started to give orders in nautical terms, and I heard from an officer that one of the captain's orders had been mishandled.
"The captain grumbled and repeated the order. After a few minutes, it happened," she said.
The wreckage of Italy's Costa Concordia cruise ship begins to emerge from water near the harbour of Giglio Porto after a salvage operation. Photo: AFP
"I did not feel the impact, the collision, but I saw the warning lights," she added.
Earlier, head waiter Antonello Tievoli told the court he had asked Captain Schettino, as a favour, to steer the Concordia closer to Giglio, so that he could say hello to his family living there.
The cruise liner took a detour near Giglio during another cruise, on January 6, but the captain deemed it not close enough and ordered another passage on January 13, Mr Tievoli said.
The Costa Concordia leans on its side after running aground in the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy. Photo: AP