Fishermen deaths: Italy to cooperate in probe,but barely

The country also tells Kerala HC the city police have no jurisdiction to try the accused marines.

Written by Agencies | Kochi | Published: February 23, 2012 7:30:52 pm

Italy told the Kerala High Court today that the state police has no jurisdiction in investigating its two naval marines charged with killing two Indian fishermen. Italy,however,made a conditional offer to cooperate in the probe into ballistic examination of the weapons used.

A Kollam court,meanwhile,extended the police custody of the two marines till March 1. The naval guards have been in police custody since their arrest on Sunday.

The Italian stand amid the diplomatic row with India was articulated by visiting Deputy Foreign Minister Stefan de Mistura here and its counsel before the Kerala High Court which asked why the country was not cooperating. The court admitted a petition filed by the Italian government seeking to quash the FIR against the two marines.

With India not relenting on Italy’s demand that the case be taken out of a Kerala court,External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said any decision on how to pursue the case against the two accused should be left to the Centre and Kerala government.

Mistura spoke of the conditional cooperation after meeting the two marines Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone at the CISF guest house at Wellington here.

“We will cooperate for the ballistic examination,but we should also be present. Hope it will bring out justice,” Mistura told reporters.

The Kollam court on February 21 had permitted the police to search the Italian ship Enrica Lexie to seize the arms allegedly used by the two onboard naval guards to shoot and kill the two Indian fishermen last Wednesday.

“We stick to our stand that the vessel was in international waters when the incident took place. It was 22.5 nautical miles off the Kollam coast,” Mistura said.

The petition filed before the High Court by Italian Consul General in Mumbai Gian Paolo Cutillo and the two accused also sought a stay on all further proceedings in the case.

They submitted the Kerala police had no authority to conduct investigation in the case and courts in India have no jurisdiction as the incident occurred beyond the Indian territorial waters.

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