Kerala opposes allowing Italian marines to go home for X`mas

Last Updated: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - 19:20

Kochi: The Kerala government on Wednesday continued to oppose in the High Court here the plea of two Italian marines, facing trial for allegedly killing two Indian fishermen, for permission to visit their country to celebrate Christmas.

The fate of the plea by Massimiliano Latore and Salvatore Girone will be known tomorrow when the Kerala High Court is due to pass its order.

After hearing arguments from the state government and the petitioners` counsel, Justice P Bhavadasan posted the case to tomorrow for orders.

Earlier, state Director General of Prosecutions T Asif Ali said the Kerala government cannot accept the undertaking given by the Italian Ambassador in India Giacomo Stanfelice in connection with the return of the two marines after celebrating Christmas in their country.

"Italy is hobnobbing and joining hands with the accused right from the inception of the case. Their words cannot be believed at all," he said. "If for want of accused, trial is torpedoed, it will be a wrong signal," he said, adding the credentials of Italy was under "doubt and under suspicion".

When Justice P Bhavadasan asked Ali pointedly whether the state accepts the undertakings, he replied in the negative. To another query, Ali said the two Marines would never come back to Kerala for trial.

Counsel for the petitioners P Vijay Bhanu said Italy was not a terrorist nation. "We will not do anything to interfere with the trial. Our credibility is at stake," he said.

Italian Defence Minister Giampaolo Di Paolo, during his recent visit to Kerala, had not approached the Chief Minister or others as the bail conditions have to be relaxed by the court, he said.

Assistant Solicitor General V Parameshwaran Nair submitted a letter to the court sent by the Italian Foreign Minister and pleaded that its contents be not disclosed as they are classified.

The ASG also said the undertaking given by the Italian consulate will be given due consideration.

The Italian Ambassador and Consul General in India Giampaolo Cutillo were present in the court.

The two marines were arrested from the Italian vessel `Enrica Lexie` on February 19 for allegedly shooting down two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast, "mistaking" them to be pirates. They are currently on bail and are staying in a hotel here.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - 19:20

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