Two Italian marines, charged with shooting to death two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast, were on Friday shifted from prison to the Borstal School in Kochi and the case referred to the Sessions court clearing the decks for trial.
The marines, Latorre Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone, had spent nearly three months in the Central Prison at Thiruvanathapuram under judicial remand after a few days of police custody following their arrest on February 19.
A week after filing of charge sheet in the case, the two were produced before the Kollam Chief Judicial Magistrate A K Gopakuar, who issued the Committal Warrant for shifting the case to the Sessions Court.
The magistrate said in his order that since the case had reached the trial stage it was being referred to the Sessions Court at Kollam for further proceedings.
The marines were also given a copy of the charge sheet and taken to Kochi by road in the afternoon.
A decision to shift the marines from the prison to the Borstal school was taken by the state government on Thursday in tune with the guidelines of the Geneva Convention on treating soldiers accused in cases.
Italian Consul General in Mumbai Giampaolo Cutillo and Defence Attache Franco Favre were present when the marines were brought to Kochi in a police van.
Borstal school at Kakkanad near Kochi is a notified prison for delinquents.
The Italian government had made a plea to state authorities to shift the marines to a guest house declaring it as a prison. Based on this, the Supreme Court had observed that the state DGP and jail ADGP could take an appropriate decision on shifting the marines from the jail.
The charges against the duo include murder under IPC section 302 and Latorre and Girone have been listed as the first and second accused respectively.
The charge sheet contained details like the description of offences, the list of related documents and material evidence, arms and ammunition seized from the ship, and a list of 60 witnesses.
The witnesses include the nine others on board, the fishing boat St Antony, in which the slain fishermen Valentine Jalstine and Ajesh Binki were fishing when they were fired allegedly by the naval guards from the Italian ship 'Enrica Lexie' off Kerala coast on February 15.