Cruise ship disaster: cocaine on captain's hair

2012-02-18 22:36
Rome - Lawyers for survivors of the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship on Saturday pressed for new drug tests on the ship's captain after traces of cocaine were reportedly found on the outside of a hair sample.

But the consultant who did the analyses for prosecutors stood by results. which found no presence of the drug in urine samples or within the hair itself.

Italian consumer protection group Codacons is representing some survivors of the shipwreck of the cruise liner, which rammed a reef near a Tuscan island the night of Jan. 13. Under Italian law, those attaching civil suits to a criminal case must be informed of, and allowed to monitor, evidence and other developments in the probe.

Codacons said Saturday that some traces of cocaine were found on a hair sample and in an envelope containing the sample, but noted that a urine sample taken from Captain Francesco Schettino and an analysis of the hair itself found no presence of the drug. It called that finding "very strange" and said it had asked prosecutors on Friday to order new testing to see if the samples might have been contaminated.

The Italian news agency ANSA quoted the forensic medical expert who carried out the toxicology test as dismissing Codacons' concerns about the external trace of cocaine.

The expert, Marcello Chiarotti, was quoted as saying the modest trace of cocaine "was a marginal problem that absolutely doesn't invalidate the results of the analysis" that found none of the drug inside the hair itself or in the urine. Traces of cocaine in the urine or inside the hair itself would have pointed to consumption.

The prosecutor's office in Grosseto, Tuscany, was closed Saturday, as was the law office of the attorney defending Schettino, who is under house arrest in his home near Naples while he is investigated for alleged manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship. The lawyer also could not be reached on his cell phone.

Schettino has denied abandoning ship and insisted the reef was not marked on navigational charts.

Thirty-two people are believed to have perished, including 15 whose bodies have not been found.

Chiarotti was described as expressing confidence in the results. "We will be able to clear this problem up later," ANSA quoted him as saying. "Those who work in our field know that there can be problems like this." He told ANSA that "the results leave no doubt," adding that he would formally hand in the report to prosecutors next week.

Chiarotti is on the teaching staff of Rome's Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. The university said he was not in his office Saturday.

ANSA, without citing sources, said that traces of the drug might have resulted if Schettino's hair had come in contact with someone who had handled cocaine.

A Codacons spokesman, Stefano Zerbi, told The AP that the group was raising the possibility with prosecutors that the samples might have been poorly preserved. Codacons' statement said the results indicate a "strange, passive contamination," in which cocaine somehow got onto Schettino's hair even though he wasn't using the drug.

The samples were taken on Jan. 17, Codacons said.

The consumer group on Friday also asked prosecutors to order DNA testing of the samples to confirm they are indeed those of Schettino, to eliminate the possibilities the samples were accidentally mislabeled or switched.

The Concordia's hull was speared by the reef after the ship cruised close to the island of Giglio in what many contend was a publicity stunt.

The Concordia was carrying some 4,200 passengers and crew on a week's cruise on its standard route when it crashed into the reef during dinner a couple of hours after leaving an Italian port.

The boat started badly listing to one side almost immediately, causing passengers to panic and try to scramble aboard lifeboats. But the evacuation wasn't ordered until about an hour later, and some passengers jumped overboard to swim to Giglio when several of the lifeboats couldn't be deployed because of the ship's tilt.

Divers have been searching sections of the wreckage where some of the missing were last seen in hopes that more bodies can be recovered. After much delay, in great part because of stormy weather, pumping operations have been under way for a week to remove some 500,000 gallons of fuel from the ship's tanks.

The Concordia is lying on its side close to the port of Giglio, which is part of a protected Tuscan archipelago in pristine waters famed for whales, dolphins, fish and coral.

- Sapa-AP
Read more on:    italy  |  cruise liner disaster
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
9 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland
The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is so much going on around you and inside your head. You may want to take your ideas to the next level. Romance may be...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.