New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram, February 26
Italian marines to be tried under Indian law: AntonyItaly’s Foreign Minister coming tomorrow to hold talksAshok Tuteja/TNS
|Sniper rifles in ship|
n After a 12-hour search on Italian cargo ship ‘Enrica Lexie’, the Kerala Police team returned to land on Sunday morning with four suitcases containing eight gunsn Police sources confirmed there were six rifles, two sniper rifles and 24 pistols on board. The police, however, seized only the rifles and the snipersn The search and seizure operation is over and we have got what we needed, the Kerala Police said
Holding that the two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast would be prosecuted under the Indian law, Defence Minister AK Antony today said the investigation into the case was progressing in the right direction. Antony’s statement comes before visit of Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Maria Terzi di Sant' Agata, who is arriving in New Delhi on Tuesday to seek a resolution to the crisis arising from the killings that took place on February 15. "The case will be proceeded under the Indian law. The judiciary in the country is independent," Antony told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram. “The incident of shooting down of two hapless fishermen off the coast of Kollam was unfortunate and equally condemnable,” he said. "The investigation in the case was progressing in the right direction and the Kerala Government was handling it very strongly and powerfully. The Centre had extended full support to the state's initiative,” said the Defence Minister. The arrested Italian marines — Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone — have been charged with murder under Section 302 of the IPC. A Special Investigation Team led by Kochi commissioner, MR Ajith Kumar is probing the case. The victims — Valentine Jalastine and Ajeesh Binki — set out to sea in a boat along with nine fishermen from Neendakara fishing harbour. The two fishermen were allegedly killed by the marines of Italian ship 'Enrica Lexie'. The Italian authorities have contended that the guards fired at the fishing boat mistaking it to be a pirate vessel. The prolonged stand-off over the issue between India and Italy threatens to cast a shadow on bilateral ties between the two countries. Italy's Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan de Mistura has already held talks with Indian officials and also met Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to find a diplomatic solution to the row. The Italians claim that since the incident took place in international waters, the two marines could not be tried under Indian laws. However, India has made it clear that since the incident involved an Indian vessel and two Indian nationals, the Indian law would take its course. The Italians have indicated that they were willing pay hefty compensation to the families of the two fishermen.
The Italian Foreign Minister's visit to India was scheduled much before the incident occurred. This would be the first high-level visit from Italy since the new government was formed there in November last year, the External Affairs Ministry said. (With PTI inputs)