Fishermen killing: Italian naval guards held

In a significant development in the case of death of two Indian fishermen, the Kerala police on Sunday took into custody two armed personnel of an Italian ship ‘Enrica Lexie’.

Updated: Feb 20, 2012, 00:46 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Kochi/New Delhi: Four days after two Indian
fishermen were killed in firing from their cargo ship off
Kerala coast, two Italian Naval guards were arrested by police
in Kochi on Sunday and charged with murder.

Simultaneously at the diplomatic level, India hoped that
Italy will cooperate in ensuring that law of the land takes
its course after their team of officials from the Legal and
Foreign ministries held a meeting with senior officials of the
External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi.

The arrest that climaxed four days of hard negotiations
between Indian and Italian sides was made by the Kollam police
which registered a murder case under section 302 of IPC
against the two men--Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone.

The two accused, who allegedly shot dead the two
fishermen, have been arrested and they will be produced before
a Kollam court tomorrow, police sources in Kochi said. They
were brought to Kochi shore at 4 PM this evening and taken
into custody, nearly eight hours past the 8 AM deadline set by
police last night.

The arrested men, who are part of the six-member security
detail of the ship Enrica Lexie from Italian Navy, were taken
to a CISF guest house at nearby Wellington island for detailed
interrogation. A Coast Guard vessel was keeping a watch on the
Italian vessel, sources said.

A diplomatic row has erupted between India and Italy over
the incident which occurred on Wednesday. The Italian crew
claimed the fishermen were shot at on suspicions of being

Italian representatives from the foreign office, law, justice and defence ministries are in the national capital and met officials of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and Home Affairs.

The two fishermen, one from Kerala and the other from Tamil Nadu, were allegedly shot dead on Wednesday by the Italian crew who mistook them for pirates in an incident that took place in the Arabian Sea.

Earlier this morning, Kochi police officials led by Police Commissioner MR Ajith
Kumar spent hours on the vessel. The Commissioner and his team had boarded the vessel at around 8 am, the deadline set by the police to handover the two armed personnel.

Superintendent of Police, Kollam, Sam Christy Daniel was also inside the vessel.

Two Forensic experts, a translator, Italian Consul General in Mumbai Gian Paolo Cutillo and Defence Attache Franco Favre also accompanied the police.

The Italian authorities had earlier agreed to hand over the two personnel against whom a case of murder was registered by Kollam Police in connection with the incident.

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi had yesterday called his Indian counterpart S M Krishna who told him that the captain the Italian oil tanker must cooperate with Indian law enforcers.

During the telephonic talk, Krishna told Terzi that the people onboard the ship, particularly the captain and the two personnel involved in the shooting, should fully cooperate with Indian investigating authorities and the law should be allowed to take its course.

With PTI inputs