Fishermen row: SIT to search ship for weapons
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Last Updated: Friday, February 24, 2012, 21:30
  
Kochi: Kerala Police are likely to search on Saturday the Italian ship Enrica Lexie for the weapons allegedly used by the two naval guards in the killing of two Indian fishermen even as the high court ordered arrest of the vessel till Monday.

"We expect by tomorrow we will be able to search the ship in the presence of the two ballistic experts from Italy," Kochi Police Commissioner MR Ajith Kumar, heading the Special Investigation Team (SIT), told reporters here.

The Italian government has requested presence of its technical experts during the search, seizure and examination, he said.

Meanwhile, the high court directed arrest of Enrica Lexie on a petition by Doramma, wife of Jelestine, one of the two fishermen killed in the February 15 incident, which has sparked a diplomatic standoff between India and Italy.

A division bench comprising justices V Ramkumar and K Harilal said the ship should be restrained at Cochin port itself as it accepted the plea of Doramma, who had challenged a single judge's decision, permitting the release of the ship after submitting Rs 25 lakh as deposit.

She submitted that the security amount was meagre and inadequate and if the court finds the petitioners are entitled to more compensation, they may not be able to realise the award amount. The bench will take up the appeal on Monday.

Asked if the two arrested marines -- Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone -- will also be taken to the ship during the search, Kumar said such details could not be revealed.

Italian Consul General in India Giampaolo Cutillo said two technical officers is expected to arrive here tomorrow from Italy to be present during examination and seizure of weapons.

A court in Kollam, which had permitted police to seize the arms, had yesterday accepted the Italians' plea for presence of their representatives in search and ballistic examination.

The Italian government was happy the marines, currently under police custody, were being treated "very well", Cuttilo said, adding that his country would cooperate in the probe.

The ship, berthed at the out of port area is being brought to the oil terminal today to enable search operations.

In Thrissur, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy asserted that the FIR filed by Kerala Police in the case is 'quite strong' and there is no attempt to weaken it.

He rejected criticism in certain quarters that the FIR was weak and said it was prepared after gathering all available evidence.

The two naval guards have been charged with murder of the fishermen killed in firing from the ship off Kollam coast on February 15. The Italians have been maintaining they opened fire assuming the fishermen on board the boat to be pirates.

PTI


First Published: Friday, February 24, 2012, 21:27


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