Fishermen case withdrawal: VS alleges conspiracy
Thiruvananthapuram: Leader of Opposition in Kerala VS Achuthanandan Saturday alleged a conspiracy in the withdrawal of court cases by the families of two fishermen shot dead in February by two Italian marines.
"I suspect that there is a conspiracy in which the centre, state and some others are involved. How was it possible for the Italian authorities to enter into a dialogue with the families of the killed? Only an inquiry can reveal what transpired," Achuthanandan told reporters here.
Early this week, the Lok Adalat of Kerala High Court acted as an intermediary in the case and worked out a settlement in which the families of two killed fishermen accepted Rs.one crore each from the Italian authorities. Subsequently, the compensation case was withdrawn from the court.
Ajesh Binki, 25, and Gelastine, 45, aboard fishing boat St. Antony, were apparently mistaken as pirates and shot dead Feb 15 off Alappuzha by two Italian marines from aboard the cargo vessel Enrica Lexie.
The Italian marines, Latorre Massimillano and Salvatore Girone, were picked up from the vessel and sent by a court in Kollam to jail Feb 20 on murder charges. They are now lodged in the central prison in Thiruvananthapuram.
Speaking to IANS, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, however, dismissed Achuthanandan's allegations as baseless, saying both the Kerala High Court and the Supreme Court of India have accepted the settlement and that the criminal case against the accused was still on.
"Achuthanandan has no moral right to make a statement on this case. When he was the chief minister, there were three separate incidents of foreign vessels hitting fishing boats in the deep seas in which two fishermen from Kerala were killed.
"Only Rs.three lakh was paid as compensation to the families of those killed and no case was registered against the accused. In the case involving the Italian marines, two separate cases have been registered and very soon we will be able to initiate legal action against them," said Chandy.