Italian Cruise Ship Captain Under House Arrest for Manslaughter

Costa Concordia Italian cruise ship captain Francesco Schettino has been placed under house arrest at his home near Naples. He is currently facing charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his vessel in the the sinking of the Carnival Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia.

The Costa Concordia cruise ship was carrying more than 4,200 people when it ran aground on a reef off the Tuscan island of Giglio, rolled onto its side and began sinking. Eleven people are confirmed dead and over 25 are still believed missing. The captain of the Italian cruise ship has been blamed for taking the huge vessel off course and steering it too close to shore to give passengers a better view of the island, resulting in the ship running aground.

Captain Francesco Schettino is alleged to have abandoned the Costa Concordia Italian cruise ship after it crashed into a reef and began sinking, leaving passengers and crew to fend for themselves. An Italian Coast Guard official reportedly caught the captain fleeing the ship and demanded he return to the vessel. The Captain repeatedly refused to do so even after being warned he would face prosecution for deserting the ship.

Schettino has insisted he remained on board the sinking Costa Concordia until the ship was evacuated, but a recording of his conversation with Italian Coast Guard Captain Gregorio De Falco appears to expose this as a lie.

“You go on board and then you will tell me how many people there are. Is that clear?” De Falco yells at Schettino in the audio tape, which was released to the public on Tuesday. The Costa Concordia captain responds that the ship is tipping and dark and so he  was coordinating the rescue from a lifeboat. He said he would not go back aboard the ship.

De Falco yells back: “And so what? You want to go home, Schettino? It is dark and you want to go home? Get on that prow of the boat using the pilot ladder and tell me what can be done, how many people there are and what their needs are. Now!” Furious, De Falco continues to berate Schettino, telling him: “You go aboard. It is an order. Don’t make any more excuses. You have declared ‘Abandon ship,’ now I am in charge,” De Falco shouted.”

On the tape, Schettino finally says he will go back on board, but the Italian Coast Guard says he never did step foot back on the Costa Concordia.

Captain Francesco Shettino was interrogated by prosecutors on Tuesday before being released and sent home under house arrest by a judge, his lawyer, Bruno Leporatti, said in a press statement. Prosecutors had hoped to keep Shettino in prison while awaiting trial. The captain could face up to 12 years in prison just on the charge of abandoning ship.