National News

Furor after Concordia captain gives seminar

By The Associated Press

ROME - A Rome university professor is facing a disciplinary hearing after inviting the captain of the shipwrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner to lecture students on emergency procedures, officials said Wednesday.

The dean of Rome's Sapienza University, Luigi Frati, on Wednesday expressed anger at the professor's decision to invite Capt. Francesco Schettino to give a seminar, calling it an "inappropriate and unworthy choice." Frati said he was turning the matter over to an ethics committee.

Schettino is being tried for manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and abandoning ship over the January 2012 capsize of the Concordia, in which 32 people died.

The university in a statement said that the fact Schettino was ordered back onto the ship during the evacuation of passengers in a now-infamous call leaked to the media "would be enough to brand the initiative as void of any academic purpose." It also dismissed "pathetic excuses" offered by the professor, Vincenzo Mastronardi, when confronted by the dean.

Italy's education minister called the news "disconcerting," while the prosecutor in Tuscany who is arguing for Schettino's guilt expressed indignation also at reports that Schettino had been awarded a diploma.

"What did the young people get out of this?" asked Francesco Verusio, according to Italian news agency ANSA. "I hope they made fun of him."

The Florence daily La Nazione reported that Schettino gave a nearly two-hour lecture to criminal science masters candidates last month, including reference to panic management. Passengers have described a chaotic evacuation of the Concordia.

Schettino, through his lawyer, defended the seminar, saying it was "a technical intervention on the basis of my knowledge and professionalism acquired over many years of service."

Schettino's lawyer, Cataldo Calabretta, criticized "an unacceptable attempt to discredit Schettino, who has been subjected for a long time already to unmerited media attacks."

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