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Marines row: Kerala govt voices concern, oppn alleges conspiracy

March 12, 2013 14:02 IST

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will convey the state government's ‘serious concern’ over Italy's refusal to send back two marines, who have been accused of shooting to death two fishermen off the state’s coast in February 2012.

According to the Chief Minister's Office, Chandy would write to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to express the state's disappointment over the new twist in the case.

Chandy, who is scheduled to leave for Delhi on Tuesday, would also try to meet Dr Singh and other central leaders to convey the state's resentment, sources said.

Opposition parties, including the Communist Party of India – Marxist and the Bharatiya Janata Party, blamed the Centre and the state government for the development, saying it amounted to denial of justice to the victims' families.

CPI-M Politburo member and former state home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan alleged that “foul play from behind the curtains by the state and central governments sabotaged the case”.

BJP leader P S Sreedharan Pillai said the Centre should take a strong stand on the issue to protect the country's sovereignty.

Dora, wife of Jelastine, one of the two fishermen killed when the marines opened fire from their ship Enrica Lexie, also claimed that this was the result of a “conspiracy to save the accused”.

The Italian government had on Monday night said the marines -- Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone -- will not return to India.

The Italian foreign ministry accused Indian authorities of violating ionternational rights by detaining the marines and said it was open about an international arbitrator assessing the case, according to an official statement.

The marines were permitted by the Supreme Court to go to Italy for four weeks for voting in the national election held in February.

Earlier, they had been allowed to go home for Christmas holidays, after which they returned to India on expiry of their leave.

On January 18, the apex court had turned down the Italian government's plea -- that the Indian courts had no jurisdiction in the case -- and had held that the two marines should be tried by the Centre by constituting a special court to conduct their trial.

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