Vessel case: Italian team meets MEA officials

An Italian delegation arrived and met Indian officials in connection with the killing of two Indian fishermen by the guards on board an Italian ship.

New Delhi: An Italian delegation, including
officials from their Legal and Foreign ministries, arrived
on Sunday and met Indian officials in connection with the
killing of two Indian fishermen by the guards on board an
Italian ship.

The visiting team discussed the case with senior External
Affairs Ministry officials during which the Indian side
expressed hope that the Italians will cooperate in ensuring
that law of the land takes its course.

MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said both the sides had
a "fairly comprehensive" discussion.

"We had a fairly comprehensive discussion whereby we have
explained to them the rationale of our position and the
situation as it exists today.

"We have also explained to them that as good partners and
as External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had requested
yesterday, we hope Italy will cooperate with us in ensuring
law of the land takes its course. We also requested them to
fully cooperate with Kerala Police," he told reporters.

Official sources have said that the team will also go to
Kochi for legal consultations in connection with the case.

Meanwhile, Krishna had made it clear that the captain and
crew of the Italian ship will have to surrender and cooperate
in the investigation of the case.

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi had yesterday called
his Indian counterpart Krishna who told him that the captain
of the Italian oil tanker must cooperate with Indian law

Krishna, according to a statement by the External Affairs
Ministry, said the loss of lives could have been avoided had
the naval personnel onboard "Enrica Lexie" been careful and
exercised restraint.

He told his Italian counterpart that "our information
clearly indicated that the Indian fishermen were not carrying
any arms or ammunition on board their vessel. Indian fishing
vessels do not carry these on board but only fishing nets and
the fish they catch".

Krishna told the Italian Foreign Minister of his
telephonic conversation with Kerala Chief Minister Oommen
Chandy who conveyed "the strong public opinion and agitation
in Kerala" at the loss of the innocent lives and the need for
an urgent resolution of this issue.

The authorities of the oil tanker had agreed yesterday
night to hand over by two of the marines onboard the vessel
who allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen on February 15
off Kollam coast.

The developments came shortly after India did some tough
talking on the need for the Italian ship authorities to
cooperate with the probe into the killing of the fishermen.

The two fishermen -- Ajesh Binki (25) and Jalastein (45)
-- were killed off Kollam coast near Kerala when armed guards
of the ship fired at their boat, suspecting it to be a vessel
belonging to pirates.