The Italian Coast Guard officer who famously ordered disgraced Costa Concordia captain Francesco Scehettino to “get back to the ship” in a phone conversation recorded almost an hour after the vessel hit rocks, took the stand Monday, testifying that hundreds of people were still aboard the heavily listing cruise ship as Schettino fled in a lifeboat.
In a phone call released in the days following the January 2012 disaster and now famous through its wide distribution on social media, Italian Coast Guard Commander Gregorio De Falco can be heard furiously screaming at Schettino to get back on board the capsized ship to coordinate a rescue as the bumbling captain refuses.
“Get on board. This is an order,” De Falco tells Schettino in Italian. “You need to continue the rescue.”
“But you are aware it is dark and we can’t see anything?,” Schettino replies.
“And what do you want? To go back home, Schettino?”, De Falco says.
De Falco testified before a court in Grosseto, Tuscany on Monday that the Coast Guard had word that hundreds were still aboard the ship when the captain fled in a lifeboat, the AP reports. The court heard the recorded phone conversations between De Falco and Schettino, including another in which Schettino told De Falco about 10 people were left aboard, the report says.
Francesco Schettino is on trial for charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship after the 114,000 ton vessel, carrying more than 4,000 passengers and crew, struck a rock off the island of Giglio and keeled over with the loss of 32 lives on January 13, 2012.
If found guilty, Schettino could face up to 20 years in jail.