Captain Francesco Schettino's decision led to the death of 32 passengers on board when the ship got too close to Giglio Island on Jan. 13, 2012, hit rocks and then sank in what became Italy's worst postwar maritime disaster.
Schettino's defense attorneys have noted that no one died in the collision itself, but that problems were created during the evacuation by the failure of a backup generator and what were supposed to be watertight compartments.
Schettino himself has been defiant and unapologetic. In video obtained by ABC News, he told an Italian television station in his first interview since the incident that he also is a victim.
Here are five of the most shocking statements the man that Italian media have dubbed "Captain Coward" made to Italy's Channel 5 News.
1. He's not happy about what happened, but others have to share the blame.
2. He actually saved lives by steering the damaged ship to shore so it wouldn't sink in deeper water.
3. He never intended to leave the ship. He accidentally fell into a lifeboat.
4. Although he was instructed to return to the ship, he couldn't because he'd have had to swim thousands of feet in icy waters.
5. Swimming back to the sinking ship would have destroyed his cell phone.
Schettino is on trial on charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.