Passengers first, then crew, then captain is the established rule in Spain, Greece and Italy of abandoning a ship when shipwrecked. Prosecutors Francesco Verusio have accused Costa Concordia cruise ship Capt. Francesco Schettino of manslaughter who, after shipwreck off the Tuscan coast on Friday night, abandoned the ship before passengers.
Although U.S. law doesn't single out abandoning ship as a crime, it's a longtime maritime tradition that the captain be the last one off a sinking ship, according to maritime law professor Craig Allen, visiting professor of law at Yale University Law School and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
"If you're going to be master of a ship, your responsibility is first to your passengers, second to your crew, then you look after yourself," said Allen, a Coast Guard veteran. "It's shameless and dishonorable [for the captain] to take himself out of the mix like that."
After Schettino was interrogated by prosecutors for three hours Tuesday, a judge in Grosseto, Tuscany, ruled that the captain, who had been detained a few hours after he allegedly abandoned the Concordia, should be released from jail and confined to his home near Naples under house arrest, his lawyer, Bruno Leporatti, told reporters outside the courthouse. Prosecutors wanted him kept in Grosseto's prison, and Leporatti had asked that he be freed.
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"You go on board and then you will tell me how many people there are. Is that clear?" De Falco shouted in the audio tape.
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