WSVN — In an exclusive interview with 7News in Italy earlier this year, Francesco Schettino insisted the Costa Concordia shipwreck was an accident not a crime.
Francesco Schettino: "I know myself and I know what I've done."
Francesco Schettino: "It was an accident. I did my best."
But Italian prosecutors think otherwise. And now a judge has ordered Schettino to stand trial for causing the crash and for manslaughter in connection with the deaths of 32 people who died when the ship capsized off the coast of Italy last year.
Schettino's defense in part will be that a navigational mistake put the ship off course, and that the failure of the officers on the bridge to follow his orders led to the collision that crippled the ship.
Four crew members and the head of Costa's Crisis Unit were also accused and then given plea deals. Schettino asked for the same option but was turned down.
Franchesco Schettino: "If the people decide to convict me – what can I do?"
Because he left the Concordia, Schettino is also facing a charge of abandoning his ship. Schettino says he was on the side of the ship that was falling over and had no choice but to jump or be crushed.
Francesco Schettino: "Instead of throwing myself at sea, I jumped on the lifeboat. But I still cannot stay on the ship anymore because it was almost 65-70 degree angle."
Despite his explanation, Schettino has been called everything from captain coward to chicken of the sea.
Carmel Cafiero: "I think that the perception is that you saved yourself at the expense of others."
Franchesco Schettino: "No."
Franchesco Schettino: "It's completely the opposite and I can prove it."
Carmel Cafiero: "But if he can not prove it, Franchesco Schettino faces the prospect of spending the next 20 years behind bars."
The trial is set to begin July 9.