The probe into the killing of two fishermen by Italian marines seems to have got a boost with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) recording the statement of four marines through video-conferencing. The four were witness to the killing of two fishermen in 2012 and appeared at the Indian Embassy in Rome where the statement was recorded,said officials.
All four were present on board Italian vessel Enrica Lexie when their colleagues Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone shot dead two fishermen off Kerala coast on February 15,2012.
The agency said the four marines had arrived at the Indian Embassy in Rome following serving of Letters Rogatory and their statements were recorded by the investigators in the presence of a magistrate in Delhi. The questioning of the witnesses through video links was necessitated after their refusal to come to India for deposition and the Home Ministrys reluctance to send a team to Rome to quiz them.
The decision to record the statements through video links was taken after Italy refused Indias request to send the witnesses to India to appear before investigators. After Italys refusal,the MHA had sought the opinion of the Attorney General. With the top law officer advising the government against sending an NIA team to Italy,the ministry was left with the only option of questioning the four witnesses through video-conferencing. Latorre and Girone have been slapped with murder charges for gunning down Ajesh Binki and Jelestine.
The NIA has questioned and recorded the statements of the master of the vessel,Umberto Vittelli,Chief Officer James Mandley Samson,Second Officer Sahil Gupta,Semen Fulbaria Marendra,Kumar Naren and former ordinary seaman Kantamuich Tirumal Rao.