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.
The dean of Rome's Sapienza University, Luigi Frati, voiced anger Wednesday 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.
The university dismissed the "pathetic excuses" offered by the professor, Vincenzo Mastronardi, when confronted by the dean.
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.
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.
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."
His lawyer, Cataldo Calabretta, criticized "an unacceptable attempt to discredit Schettino, who has been subjected for a long time already to unmerited media attacks."
The Concordia was towed from its Tuscan graveyard last month to Genoa's port where it will be turned into scrap. During a search of the ship Wednesday, authorities found some bone fragments that they said could belong to the one person still unaccounted for from the tragedy: Indian waiter Russel Rebello. They said the bones could also belong to an Italian passenger whose partial, mutilated remains were found some months ago.