Lawyers representing survivors of the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster made a startling claim today: that traces of cocaine, like illicit dandruff, were found on Capt. Francesco Schettino's hair. What makes that so bizarre, according to the AP report, isn't so much that it was there at all, but rather that no cocaine was detected within the hair samples themselves, or in the urinalysis. But the lawyers are convinced that where there's cocaine, there's a party-boy captain who ingested it. A spokesman for Italian consumer protestion group Codacon are suggesting the samples "more than anything else, had been badly preserved and contamination might have resulted."
Lending credence to that theory is the fact that Schettino has openly admitted to having taken tranquilizers the night he steered the ship into a reef off the Italian coast and capsized the vessel, yet no traces of that medication were found in the hair and urine samples, either. Codacons is insisting the samples be subjected to DNA testing to ensure they are indeed Schettino's, and want clarification as to whether or not the strands, taken several days after the accident, were "snipped at the roots."
The death toll has now risen to 17 known bodies, with 15 more still missing -- though all search missions have been called off. The Italian Ministry of the Interior website has a list of the missing, which include six Germans, two French, four Italians, one Indian, and two American passengers. Schettino is currently under house arrest, and faces charges of manslaughter, "imprudence, negligence and incompetence" leading to death, and abandonment of a shipwreck.