A dancer from Moldova admitted that she and Costa Concordia Captain Francesco Schettino were lovers during his trial this week.
Domnia Cemortan told a Tuscany court that she had a romantic relationship with the captain, and was in his company when the cruise liner crashed into a reef near Giglio Island off the Italian coast last year, leading to the deaths of 32 passengers and the body of a ship beached by the shore for more than 12 months.
Capt. Schettino faces a handful of manslaughter and abandoning ship charges, according to the BBC. The captain could receive up to 20 years in prison if he's found guilty.
Since the beginning of the trial, Cemortan has become a person of media interest, after news surfaced concerning her relationship with the man who some say could have prevented the Costa Concordia crash. The night the ship hit the reef, Cemortan was having dinner with the captain when he suggested they stand on the bridge to watch what was meant to be simply a close move past the Tuscan island of Giglio, the BBC reported. Some Italian news sites have posited that the captain might have been distracted by Cemortan, or that he was perhaps showing off for her instead of paying attention to his duties as captain.
Cemortan testified that she boarded the ship with no ticket.
"When you are someone's lover, no one asks you for a ticket," she said, later dismissing the comment as a joke made to her translator.
She also said that she met the captain while working for the company that managed the Costa Concordia.
Once the ship hit the rocks, Capt. Schettino told Cemortan to "save herself," but that she helped other passengers flee the cruise liner before climbing into a lifeboat that took her to safety.
Earlier in the day of the trial, a maître d' working on the ship named Antonello Tievoli testified that he requested the captain steer the ship close to the island of Giglio, because he had family there. The captain agreed, but instructed the helmsman to direct the vessel closer the next time around. Seven days later, the ship came too close to the island, and ran aground on rocks nearby.
The captain has admitted that he's partly at fault for the event, but his lawyers have maintained that the ship sank because watertight doors on the ship malfunctioned. He also said that the helmsman didn't heed his orders to slow down.
The Costa Concordia was righted out of the water in September, after it was stuck there for more than a year.