Lawyers: Cocaine on capsized cruise captain's hair

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Lawyers for survivors of the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship on Saturday pressed for new drug tests on the ship's captain after traces of cocaine were reportedly found on the outside of a hair sample.

But the consultant who did the analyses for prosecutors stood by results, which found no presence of the drug in urine samples or within the hair of Captain Francesco Schettino.

Italian consumer protection group Codacons is representing some survivors of the shipwreck of the cruise liner, which rammed a reef near a Tuscan island the night of Jan 13. Under Italian law, those attaching civil suits to a criminal case must be informed of, and allowed to monitor, evidence and other developments in the probe.

Codacons said on Saturday that some traces of cocaine were found on a hair sample and in an envelope containing the sample, but noted that a urine sample taken from Schettino and an analysis of the hair itself found no presence of the drug.

It called that finding ‘very strange’ and said it had asked prosecutors on Saturday to order new testing to see if the samples might have been contaminated.

The Italian news agency ANSA quoted the forensic medical expert who carried out the toxicology test as dismissing Codacons' concerns about the external trace of cocaine.

The expert, Marcello Chiarotti, was quoted as saying the modest trace of cocaine ‘was a marginal problem that absolutely doesn't invalidate the results of the analysis’ that found none of the drug inside the hair itself or in the urine.

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