‘Italian officials as observer in arms examination`

Two Italian officials were on Friday allowed by a Kerala court to be present during forensic examination.

Kollam: Two Italian officials were on Friday allowed by a Kerala court to be present during forensic examination of arms seized from the ship `Enrica Lexie` in
connection with the killing of two Indian fishermen off the Kollam coast on February 15.

The court made it clear that the Italian officials could be present only as "silent spectators" during the examination at Government Forensic Laboratory in Thiruvananthapuram and should not interfere in it, verify the results or reveal it.
In his order, Chief Judicial Magistrate A K Goapakumar, also suggested that, if necessary, a personnel of the Indian Navy could also be present.

The Italian pleaded for allowing four of its officials to be present during the entire procedure to ensure that the examination was conducted in a fair and foolproof manner without giving room for any tampering.

Two days back, the court had disallowed a similar plea by Italy, but said the country`s representatives could be present during the unsealing of the boxes containing the guns and their test firing.

The arms were seized from the ship by the Special Investigating Team probing the case, headed by Kochi City Police Commissioner M R Ajith Kumar last week.

The sealed boxes with the firearms were produced before the court here earlier this week and was ordered to be taken to the Government Forensic Laboratory in Thiruvanthapuram for scientific examination.

The fishermen, Valentine Jalastine and Ajesh Binki, were allegedly shot dead by the two Italian marine guards Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone, who are now in police custody after being charged with murder.

Meanwhile in Kochi, the Kerala High Court partially heard the petition filed by the Italian government and the two marines and posted the petition for hearing on March 6.

Justice P S Gopinathan also expressed dissatisfaction on the petition filed by the Italian Consulate General as there were some defects in the rectified petition also.

The petitioners contended there are contradictions in the FIR and remand report on the place of occurrence. As per the FIR, the ship was 33 nautical miles away from the coast, whereas the remand report said it was 22.5 nautical miles,
they submitted.

They also contended that the law governing a ship will be of that country whose flag is masted on the vessel.


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