'I love him' says Concordia captain's blonde dancer friend

Feb 3, 2012

Confession comes as divers searching shipwrecked liner find her lingerie in the captain's cabin

THE BLONDE Moldovan woman seen by passengers of the shipwrecked Costa Concordia drinking red wine with Captain Francesco Schettino shortly before the cruise liner ran aground on 13 January, has told Italian investigators she is in love with him. "Yes, it's true. I am in love with Captain Schettino," Domnica Cemortan, 25, has reportedly told prosecutors.

According to La Stampa, she has also admitted that she was on the bridge as a guest of Schettino when the boat hit the rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio. This conflicts with the captain's story. He has insisted that only authorised crew were on the bridge at the time.

Until now, Cemortan had maintained that her friendship with the captain was innocent and that he had been a “hero" on the night, doing his best to save lives.

It is thought she had little choice but to change her story after divers found items of her lingerie and a beauty case in the captain's cabin. According to The Daily Telegraph, quoting La Repubblica, Cemortan had worked for Costa Cruises as a dancer and passenger rep on previous trips, but she was travelling as a personal guest of the captain's this time and did not have her own cabin.

The revelation comes a week after Schettino's wife, Fabiola Russo, defended her husband in an interview with the magazine Oggi, saying he had been made a scapegoat by the media.

"Who is at sea sails, who is on soil judges," she said.

"I cannot think of any other naval or air tragedy in which the responsible party was treated with such violence... This is a manhunt, people are looking for a scapegoat, a monster. It's shameful."

She and her husband will have every chance to discuss Cemortan's new evidence. Schettino is under house arrest at the family home in Meta di Sorrento, near Naples.

With the death toll now 17, and a further 15 missing, presumed dead, he faces at least 12 years in jail if he is found guilty of manslaughter.

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That'll please Schettino's wife no end. And he's under house arrest? I think he'll be begging for prison soon enough.