Rome: A 25-year-old blonde Moldovan dancer
who was on board the Costa Concordia told prosecutors that she
was "in love" and "a guest" of the doomed cruise ship`s
captain, Italian newspapers reported on Thursday.
"Yes, it`s true. I am in love with captain (Francesco)
Schettino," Domnica Cemortan, who has joint Moldovan and
Romanian citizenship, was quoted by La Stampa daily as saying
to investigators looking into the January 13 tragedy.
The 52-year-old captain is married and has a daughter.
Cemortan in earlier interviews had dismissed gossip that she
was Schettino`s lover saying he was a faithful family man
because he had shown her pictures of his daugther.
The woman was also quoted as saying that she was on the
bridge when the luxury liner hit rocks off the Tuscan island
of Giglio on January 13, which caused it to keel over with a
loss of 32 lives out of 4,229 people on board.
In an interview with an agency earlier, however, she said that
she had been dining with friends when the accident happened.
Schettino had told investigators that there was no-one apart
from authorised staff on the bridge at the time.
Italian newspapers say that the testimony of the
mysterious Moldovan -- a former employee of cruise ship
operator Costa Crociere -- has become a key part of the
investigation that is trying to work out who was where when.
Cemortan in earlier interviews in the Moldovan capital
Chisinau said Schettino was "a hero" whose actions after the
impact saved thousands of lives and she dismissed the
accusations against him as "absurd".
The captain, who is under house arrest at his home on the
Amalfi coast, and first officer Ciro Ambrosio are accused of
manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship
before all the passengers were evacuated.