Prosecutors in an Italian court released video today purportedly showing captain Francesco Schettino boarding a lifeboat before passengers of the Costa Concordia – a 2012 accident that resulted in 32 deaths.
The cruise liner was navigating through shallow waters on Jan. 13, 2012 when it slammed into a rock, ripping open a 230-foot gash across the hull. Water flooded the ship within minutes and it started tilting.
The captain has claimed that he accidentally fell into a lifeboat – but the newly-released video shows him exiting the sinking ship while passengers were still on board.
The video’s release comes one day after Schettino testified in his own defense, defiant and gesticulating under questioning from Italian prosecutors. The testimony had a theatrical flair, with Schettino hunched over a table on a stage, at times studying a photo of the ship's radar, while prosecutors in the front row of the auditorium played bit-by-bit audio segments from the ship's bridge the night of the accident.
During his testimony, Schettino said he allowed the approach to Giglio "to kill three birds with one stone" – pay homage to a retired commander living there, who it turned out was on the mainland; do a favor for the maître d', who was from Giglio; and for marketing reasons.
Schettino is charged with manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship. If convicted, he faces more than 20 years' imprisonment. He is being tried alone, after five other defendants reached plea deals.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.