For the first time since the Costa Concordia sunk off the coast of the Tuscan Isle of Giglio on the 13th of January 2012, former Captain Francesco Schettino, who was released from court-ordered house arrest on the 5th of July, addressed the public through an interview on the "Quinta Colonna" programme on Italy's Canale 5 (Channel 5) on the 10th of July.
Even before the programme began, Italians began verbalising their outrage that the man accused of killing 32 people, including a 5-year-old girl, was being paid a reported 50.000 euro for granting Mediaset the exclusive on his first interview.
Concerned citizens, including the secretary general of the National Consumers Union, Massimiliano Dona, flocked to the Twitter hashtags #IoNonGuardoSchettino (I won't watch Schettino) and #BoicottaQuintaColonna (Quinta Colonna Boycott) to express their reasons for boycotting the broadcast, which include the fact that his public address may influence public opinion for his trial and that the homey setting, complete with flowers and a model of a sailing ship, was blatantly intended to draw sympathy for the accused.
As he relayed his version of the events, Schettino revealed that he blames himself for being distracted by a phone call just before the crash, but does not feel that he is solely at fault for the "banal accident" in which 4200 passengers and crew were evacuated when the cruise ship ran aground. When asked why he delayed ordering an evacuation until an hour after the ship began taking on water, Schettino declared that he saved more lives by manoeuvring the ship to shallower waters.
Schettino cannot leave Naples until his trial for multiple accounts of manslaughter, abandoning ship, and failing to communicate with authorities concludes. The proceedings are set to begin in Grossetto on the 21st of July.