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(Costa Concordia) Domnica Cemortan: “I’m Not the Captain’s Lover”

The Costa Concordia “mystery woman” has come out vehemently denying an intimate relationship with Captain Schettino of the ill-fated ship, despite reports indicating otherwise. “I’m not the captain’s lover. You know why? He was always showing me photos of his daughter when she was little. A man who wants a lover doesn’t behave like that,” she told the Italian press. Domnica Cemortan, 25, was reportedly seen at dinner with Schettino by several passengers and crewmembers just before the disaster. She denies this as well: “It’s false to claim that the captain was with us,” she told the press. “At the time of the impact I was in the restaurant with some of the senior officers. The captain had stopped by earlier but I don’t know exactly what time, maybe half an hour before.”

Cemortan was also asked about reports indicating that she did not have her own cabin. She retorted by telling reporters that still had her ticket stub in her pocket.

Italian officials are reportedly interested in interviewing Cemortan, since she was with Schettino for so much of the night of the disaster. Their suspicions were peaked when Schettino reportedly told them that Cemortan was onboard the ship with her husband, which wasn’t the case. Also, a Costa Cruises fitness instructor, Alexander Banescu, told reporters that it was public knowledge that Cermortan and Schettino are close and suggested that there may be more to the story. Schettino’s criminal attorney had not commented on the rumors.

Cermortan had worked as a dancer for Costa cruises. She is reportedly the mother of a two-year-old girl.

Cemortan says that on the night of the accident, she was in close proximity to the captain for most of the evacuation: “I was close to Capt Schettino – I was translating what he was telling me to say. I translated into Russian what he and his second in command were telling me in Italian: that passengers should return to their cabins because it was just a power failure. I repeated that last phrase maybe 10 times,” she said, although the fact that the crew was telling passengers that the accident was a power failure is hardly comforting for the family members of the deceased and missing.

She said she regarded the captain as “a hero” and denied reports that the captain had left the ship early, saying “I’m sure that he was still on the bridge (around midnight) because it was at that time that he told us to leave, to abandon ship. I and another colleague said that we wanted to stay. But he told us to run. I saw him a long time later, on the island.”

The cruise accident, in which 4,200 crew and passengers were evacuated from a giant Costa vessel when it hit rocks near Giglio Island off the coast of Tuscany, had captured international attention. 11 have so far been confirmed dead, with rescue crews still searching for bodies amongst the wreckage. Schettino, the captain, has been charged with multiple counts of manslaughter and abandoning ship and is on house arrest in his home south of Naples. Despite ample evidence against him, including several incriminating recordings, Schettino’s criminal defense attorney states that the captain is responsible for saving thousands of lives.

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