Fabiola Russo, the wife of Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino has defended her husband in the Italian magazine Oggi interview, claiming: “He is not a monster.”
Fabiola Russo spoke out as calls increased for prosecutors to widen their probe into the Costa Concordia luxury liner disaster, in which 16 people have been confirmed dead and another 16 people still are missing.
In an interview with glossy Italian weekly Oggi, Fabiola Russo said there was a witch-hunt against her husband – who is under investigation for multiple manslaughter, abandoning ship and causing a ship wreck.
Francesco Schettino is currently under house arrest following the disaster which happened earlier this month, after he recklessly steered his 114,000 tons ship, carrying more than 4,000 passengers and crew, on to rocks close to the island of Giglio in a “sail by” salute to impress a crew member.
Fabiola Russo, 48, who lives with Francesco Schettino and their 17-year-old daughter in Meta di Sorrento near Naples, said: “My husband is not a monster. He was always the go to guy for the crew.
“I am the wife of a seaman, so I am used to doing things on my own. I tackle situations and I resolve them.
“This is a witch hunt, everyone is out to get my husband. The media has made out he is to blame.
“He loves ships, he knows all about them and has never stopped studying them, to learn what they are capable of and what their limits are.
“He didn’t stop at just sailing ships. That’s why for his crew he was always the go to man, a maestro. He is decisive, stable and lucid, he analyses situations, understands them and then acts.
“At times Francesco seems arrogant because he puts himself above the people he is speaking to and often tells them to shut up.
“He wasn’t in charge of the Concordia by chance, he knows how to do his job but sometimes even those who know how to do their job can make mistakes – that’s if he did make a mistake.”
Extracts from the interview were also posted on Oggi’s website along with a gallery of photographs provided by Fabiola Russo among them a series of pictures showing her husband giving a safety demonstration when he was a captain with Renaissance cruise lines in 2000.
Other pictures showed Francesco Schettino at a desk in his cabin on another ship, or where was sat on a lifeboat of a tanker while working for American petrol giants Sunoco.
Amazingly Fabiola Russo also revealed how they had once been fined for sailing too close to the shore in their sailing boat and added: “What we really like is canoeing and to row together you need to be in harmony and my husband and I are.”
It comes as Beniamino Deidda, prosecutor general of Tuscany, the Italian region Giglio is in, called for attention in the investigation to also focus on the Concordia’s owners Costa Cruises.
Beniamino Deiddo said: “For the time being the main focus of attention is the captain, who it has been shown was tragically inadequate but who chose him?
“The lifeboats did not lower properly, the crew didn’t know what to do, they were unprepared in dealing with an emergency, wrong orders were given such as being told to return to cabins.
“The confusion that has emerged shows that there was an incredible lack of attention to safety procedures. Safety should have been rehearsed beforehand.
“You cannot blame all of this carelessness on the conduct of the captain. That’s why this investigation cannot exclude others.”
Yesterday the death toll of Costa Concordia ship disaster rose to 16 as the body of a woman was found on deck three of the vessel after a hole had once again been blown into the side of the ship.
The victim was found with a life jacket and her body was taken to a mortuary on the mainland.