'Use of force by Italian vessel illegal'



Kochi: Coast Guard Tuesday told Kerala High Court that preliminary probe revealed the use of force by an Italian vessel resulting in the death of two Indian fishermen was 'illegal' and the 'trigger happy' guards did not adhere to laid down regulations and advisories on anti-piracy measures.

The use of force by the merchant vessel Enrica Lexie was 'illegal' as the Indian fishing boat was 100 metres away and posed no threat to life on board the Italian ship, the Coast Guard said in a counter-affidavit.

It was also contended in the affidavit filed by Assistant Solicitor General of India P Parameshwaran Nair that the vessel had failed to resort to 'graduated use' of force.

The incident took place in broad daylight and search light would not be visible to the boat crew in full sunlight as the height of the vessel was more than the boat, it said.

The vessel rather than making water wall around the ship, undertaking evasive manoeuvring and other recommended best management practises to dissuade suspected pirates, resorted to "indiscriminate" firing which should have been the last option, that too only in self defence.

"Unfortunately the trigger happy security guards did not adhere to laid down regulations/advisories on anti-piracy measures," the affidavit filed in response to the petition seeking quashing of the FIR against two Italian Marines, suspected to have fired at the fishermen.

The two marines have been arrested and charged with murder of the fishermen on February 15 off Kollam coast in the state.

The coast guard also submitted that the merchant vessel did not comply with the mandatory requirement of reporting the incident to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre.

It claimed that the detachment commander during investigations confessed to have fired about 12 rounds together with eight rounds by his colleague who was on duty with him. It was stated that they had warned the fishermen using search lights and showing of their guns in the air.

On being alerted by the local police about the incident, the coast guard sent urgent messages to its vessels and Enrica Lexie was identified as 'suspect vessel'.

PTI