Italian envoy summoned over killing of fishermen

Last Updated: Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 22:30

New Delhi/Kochi: A diplomatic row between
India and Italy flared up on Thursday with the Italian Ambassador
being summoned and a strong protest lodged over the killing of
two fishermen by security guards of an Italian merchant ship
off the Kerala coast.

The Union Home Ministry said a case will be registered
against the people responsible for the shooting and they will
have to face Indian law, as Indian Navy raised serious
questions whether the crew of `Enrica Lexie` acted
appropriately in firing at the Indian boat carrying 11
fishermen on suspicions they were a band of pirates.

Defence Minister AK Antony described as "serious and
unfortunate" the incident yesterday off Kollam coast.

Italian Ambassador Giacomo Sanfelice di Monteforte, who
was summoned by Ministry of External Affairs by Secretary
(West) M Ganapathi, said his country`s Navy followed the
international protocol.

Two fishermen in a boat including its driver were shot
dead when security guards onboard the merchant vessel fired at
their boat.

After the meeting in Delhi, the envoy said the facts of
the case are yet to be clarified.

"We are working in very close cooperation with Indian
authorities. It is in any case a very sad incident. What I
want to underline is that the Italian ship moved voluntarily
into the Kochi port," he told reporters.

Asked about the firing incident, the envoy said: "The
Italian Navy followed the international protocol as it was
approached by a vessel which did not stop when flash lights
were sent.

The vessel was anchored off the Kochi coast and its crew
is being questioned by the police in the ship itself.

Indian Navy sources said the Italian vessel had violated
the established anti-piracy norms. The security detail on the
merchant vessel seemed to be trigger-happy as they directly
attacked Indian fishermen, they said.

Union Home Secretary RK Singh said a case will be
registered against the people responsible for the firing.

Italian Consul General in India GiamPaolo Cutillo also
arrived in Kochi and met the crew of the vessel anchored about
50 nautical miles off Kochi coast.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 14:35

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