Fishermen row: SIT to search ship for weapons

Kerala Police are likely to search on Saturday the Italian ship Enrica Lexie for weapons allegedly used in the killing of two Indian fishermen.

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

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

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.


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