Kerala High Court orders release of Italian ship

The Kerala HC ordered release of Italian ship Enrica Lexie, detained off Kochi port for over a month.

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Thursday ordered
release of Italian ship Enrica Lexie, detained off Kochi port
for over a month in connection with the gunning down of two
Indian fishermen allegedly by marines aboard the vessel.

Allowing the plea of ship owners Dolphin Tankers, Justice
PS Gopinathan directed the state government and police to
release the ship, subject to the owners executing a Rs 3 crore
bond before the deputy conservator of Cochin Port Trust.

The court also directed the shipping company to give an
undertaking that the vessel, its master and crew would appear
as and when called upon by competent authorities with three
weeks` prior notice.

On the argument of Advocate General KP Dandapani that
other marines (on board the ship) could also be required as
part of the investigation, the court said release of the
vessel should not interfere with the probe.

The owners argued they could not take responsibility of
the marines as they were not part of the ship`s crew and they
were deputed by the Italian navy for security.

The two fishermen, Valentine Jalstine and Ajesh Pinki,
were killed when the marines allegedly fired at their fishing
boat off Kollam coast on February 15.

Marines Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Gironi have
been arrested and charged with murder and lodged in the
Central Prison in Thiruvananthapuram under judicial remand.
Meanwhile, Italy`s Defence Minister Giam Paolo di Paolo met
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in the state capital in
connection with the case.

After their meeting, which lasted about 30 minutes, the
Italian minister declined to make any statement to the media.

The minister and Italian officials accompanying him also
met the marines at the prison.