25/01/2012 08:48 GMT | Updated 25/01/2012 12:09 GMT

Costa Concordia: Captain Francesco Schettino's Wife Says 'He's Not A Monster'

The wife of disgraced Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino has defended her husband in an interview with an Italian weekly magazine, saying he had been made a "scapegoat".

Fabiola Russo, 48, said Schettino had been turned into a villain by the media, portrayed as a "monster".

“My husband is at the centre of an unprecedented global media storm," Rossi told Oggi (Today).

"Who is at sea sails, who is on soil judges.

"I cannot think of any other naval or air tragedy in which the responsible party was treated with such violence... This is a manhunt, people are looking for a scapegoat, a monster. It's shameful."

However Russo admitted it was not the first time that Schettino had been reckless whilst driving a boat. She revealed that he was once fined for passing too close to the coast whilst driving a motorboat on holiday.

Despite the disaster, she said that Schettino was renowned for his in-depth understanding of naval matters, revered by his crew, “as a point of reference and a teacher.”

She explained that although her husband may seem bold, it is only because his intelligence makes him able to put down his opponent. He is often “a cut above” the other party which makes him seem cheeky, she told Oggi.

Meanwhile, Russo spoke of concern for their 17-year-old daughter: “No one had any scruples or regard for her” she said.

“No one, before judging (the Captain), thought that she would turn on the TV, newspapers, and read social networks. She is a teenager. At her age, even when everything is going OK there are thousands of quandaries. It’s impossible to expect her to have the strength to handle it all.”

Francesco Schettino is currently under house arrest awaiting to appear in court charged with causing a shipwreck, abandoning ship and multiple counts of manslaughter. The disaster has claimed 16 lives while 17 passengers and crew are still missing.

However she says the family pray together at home, and she knows she will be fine.

“I am the wife of a sailor, I am used to getting on by by myself. I confront situations and resolve them.”

Costa Concordia rescue