Skift Take

The dancer's lawsuit, like the captain's ongoing antics, is another sideshow in what could be a serious discussion of cruise safety practices.

The Moldovan dancer seen dining with Captain Francesco Schettino the night the Costa Concordia ran aground is to seek damages from the captain and the ship’s parent company.

Schettino, the captain of the luxury cruise liner, will go on trial in Grosseto on July 9 on several charges including multiple manslaughter and deserting the ship on the night of the accident.

Thirty-two people were killed in the disaster when it ran aground off the coast of Giglio and the bodies of two of the victims have never been found.

Domnica Cemortan, a 26-year-old cruise ship passenger hostess and former dancer, was reportedly on the bridge with Schettino when the ship struck rocks off the island on January 13 last year.

Immediately after the accident she reportedly told investigators that she was “in love” with Schettino.

Cemortan’s Italian lawyer Gianluca Madonna on Wednesday told The Telegraph his client rejected any suggestion of a relationship between the couple and that she was seeking damages against the captain and the company which had failed to defend her publicly or keep its promise to rehire her.

She is also considering separate action against several Italian newspapers, magazines and TV channels who allegedly slandered her reputation for suggesting she had been involved with the captain.

“She is a hard worker and is a beautiful dancer, very professional,” Mr Madonna said. “The media has presented her as a prostitute.” He said his client was angry at the way she had been abandoned by the company and would be seeking damages “between 200,000 and 300,000 euros” (£255,000) in compensation — well above the 11,000 euros being offered by the company to survivors.

“The action against Costa Cruises is for all the problems they created,” Mr Madonna said. “She paid for a ticket on the ship and received a key to the room an hour and a half later. Her room was on the same private floor as Schettino’s room.”

He said neither Schettino nor the company had said anything to defend her.

“On the night of the accident she risked her life helping Russian passengers because there was no one on board who spoke Russian. Since the accident she has not worked regularly and Costa did not renew her contract.”

When contacted by The Telegraph through her Italian agent today, Ms Cemortan sent an email response saying she was out of the country.

Schettino has always argued he saved lives by managing to steer the stricken vessel closer to shore so it did not sink in deep water where hundreds might have drowned. 


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Tags: accidents, carnival, costa, lawsuits

Photo credit: The captain of the Costa Concordia Schettino is surrounded by Italian Carabinieri policemen as he leaves at the end of the preliminary hearings in Grosseto. Max Rossi / Reuters

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