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Italian marines charged with killing Indian fishermen

May 18, 2012 15:09 IST

Three months after they allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast, the police on Friday filed a chargesheet against two Italian marines in a court Kollam charging them with murder under IPC and also invoking the International Maritime Law.

The marines, Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone on board the Italian ship 'Enrica Lexie' when the incident occurred on February 15, are listed as the first and second accused respectively in the 196-page charge sheet, including annexures, filed before the chief judicial magistrate.

The naval guards, lodged in the Central prison at Thiruvanathapuram for nearly three months, are also facing charges under IPC sections 307 (attempt to murder), 427 (causing damage or loss) and 34 (acting in common intention).

Article 3 of the Suppression of Unlawful Act of International Martime Navigation has also been invoked in connection with the incident which had led to a diplomatic row between India and Italy.

The chargesheet, drawn up after three months of investigation, said the ship was sailing 20.5 nautical miles off the Indian coast when the marines fired at the fishermen from Kerala who were aboard the boat St Antony.

The chargesheet listed vital exhibits like voyage data recorder, six Beretta guns, two mini-light machine guns, 1690 bullets and the deck-log of the ship, both in Italian and English and GPS, seized from the vessel.

The chargesheet cited 60 witnesses including the crewmembers of the vessel and the fellow fishermen who were on board the boat, which was fired at by the marines.

The victims, Valentine Jalastine and Ajesh Binki, who took to sea along with nine other fishermen from Neendakara near Kollam, was shot dead on February 15.

The Italian marines were arrested on February 19 and lodged in jail. The chargesheet was filed just a day before the three month time limit for doing so.

The vessel, which was detained for more than two months off Cochin port, was allowed to sail a few days ago on getting clearance from the Supreme Court.

The marines had moved a bail application in the district court in Kollam, which would come up for consideration tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Steffan de Mistura expressed hope that there would a speedy trial. Mistura, who met the marines in the prison on Thursday, called on Archbishop M Soosai Pacckyam in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday morning. He told reporters that Italy also shared the safety concerns of Indian fishermen and would take steps to ensure that ships from his country would not stray into territorial waters, where traditional fishermen mostly engage themselves.

The archbishop said he also asked the Italian officials to take the initiative for strengthening international laws concerning the safety of fishermen so that unfortunate incidents like this could be avoided.

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