Cardinal row: Chandy stays away from controversy

Kerala CM Oommen Chandy on Wednesday refused to be drawn into the controversy on the killing of two Indian fishermen by Italian marines.

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Wednesday refused to be drawn into the controversy over the reported statement of Cardinal of Syro Malabar Church Mar George Alancherry on the killing of two Indian fishermen by Italian marines.

"As the Syro Malabar Church itself had refuted the remark, I am not saying anything on the matter," Chandy said when his comment was sought during a Cabinet briefing here.

He was reacting to the report by Catholic news agency `Fides` in which Alancherry was quoted as having appealed to the state authorities not to resort to "precipitate action" and warned the Opposition against trying to "exploit the situation".

Opposition leader in Kerala Assembly V S Achuthanandan said the statement of the Cardinal was condemnable, if he had
made such a remark.

"If the statement was true, it showed that the Cardinal was with the persons who killed and not with the victims. The Cardinal tried to justify the incident more than the Italian authorities," he said.

Referring to the remark that the Opposition would try to "exploit" the situation, he said it was unexpected that such Cardinal".

Meanwhile, the Syro Malabar Church refuted the remarks attributed to Allencherry and said the Cardinal was keen that both India and Italy resolve the matter in a "peaceful and amicable" manner.

A spokesman of the church, Father Paul Thelekat, said to the sources
in Kochi that he had spoken to the Cardinal following the controversy over his reported statement.

"As far as the law point is concerned, they have their interpretations and we have our interpretations. As of today, the two people (Italian Marines arrested) are on Indian soil and tomorrow the Indian court is going to decide what steps are to be taken further," Kaur said.

"So as far as we are concerned in India, we certainly will go by our law," she said.

Mistura said there was an agreement on three points, but Kaur denied having reached any understanding. "The only agreement is that the law will take its own course," she said.

Expressing regret over the incident, he said: "We do acknowledge that two Indian citizens died. No one doubts it and we are terribly sad.

The second one is that the incident took place in international waters and at the same time the investigations will assert the exact position."

"We all want truth. The truth will help us in (finding) proper way of handling the issue," he said and added that he would go to Kerala this evening.

Mistura said ties between India and Italy were "very important for all of us" and that the "tragic incident" needs to be analysed properly.

Kerala Chief Minister Chandy said, "The two Italians have been booked under Section 302 of IPC and government`s stand is it will proceed with the investigation. It is the right and power of the state. The Centre has extended full support to Kerala`s position."

Italy had on Monday said that there were "currently considerable differences of a legal character" on the issue of the arrest of the two Italian soldiers, who opened fire at fishermen mistaking them to be pirates off Kochi coast. Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi is also slated to visit
India next Tuesday.


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