, ROME, Jan 7 – The captain of the luxury cruise liner that crashed off the Italian coast nearly a year ago, killing 32 people, said Monday he had been portrayed as worse than Osama bin Laden.
“I have been tormented throughout the year for what happened the night of January 13. I have been painted as worse than bin Laden,” captain Francesco Schettino said in an interview with La Stampa newspaper.
“I deeply regret what happened,” he added.
The giant Costa Concordia — more than twice as big as the Titanic — sank after hitting a rock 300 metres (yards) off the Tuscan island of Giglio just as many of the ship’s 4,229 passengers and crew were sitting down to dinner.
Schettino has been accused of multiple manslaughter and abandoning the ship before all the passengers were safely ashore.
The captain, who has said he did not intentionally abandon ship but slipped and fell into a lifeboat when the Concordia rolled onto its side, called for a review of the cruise industry’s rules.
Widely dubbed “captain coward” by the Italian media, Schettino has also been accused of refusing point blank to return to the ship once he had reached the shore, despite the fact that passengers remained on board the sinking vessel.
“After the Titanic shipwreck, a number of things were revised. We have to do the same thing now. The rules must be revised,” he said.
Prosecutors are expected to call soon for eight people to stand trial: Schettino, other crew members and managers from the ship’s owner Costa Crociere, which is part of the world’s biggest cruise operator, US-based Carnival.