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Fishermen killings: Weapons seized from Italian vessel

Last updated on: February 25, 2012 22:08 IST

A Special Investigation Team on Saturday seized several weapons from the Italian merchant vessel Encrica Lexie during a search to trace the firearms used by two marines, who allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen.

"We have seized many weapons and we will zero in the right weapons after the ballistic examination," police sources told PTI, as the search progressed in the presence of a 10-member Italian delegation, including two ballistic experts who were flown in from Rome on Saturday morning.

Italian Consul General, Giampaolo Cuttillo was also present during the search along with his country's ballistic experts Major Flebus Luca and Major Fratini Paolo.

The SIT of the Kerala police began the search around noon with forensic and finger print experts also on board the vessel berthed in Kochi.

The two arrested marines -- Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone -- have been charged with murder in connection with the killing of the Indian fishermen on Feb 15. Kochi Police Commissioner M R Ajith Kumar heading the SIT, Kollam Police Commissioner Debesh Kumar Behera along with a team of police officers were on board the tanker.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the government would make all efforts to ensure that families of the two Indian fishermen get the maximum compensation. The probe was in the right direction, he said adding the Central government was extending all cooperation to the State.

Since the state government had taken a strong stand the Italian government was cooperating with the probe, he told a meet-the-press programme of the Ernakulam press club.

The incident had occurred in Indian waters and the Italian marines should be subjected to Indian laws, he said.

The Kerala high court had on Friday ordered arrest and detention of the vessel at Kochi port oil terminal till Monday evening. 

Kumar told reporters that only 25 per cent of the search was over and the exercise would continue. "Search and seizure operations are going on. It's a time-consuming process and will take time," he said adding the weapons used by the six marine security personnel on board the vessel have been seized and would be sent to the Thiruvananthapuram forensic laboratory.

Once the search operations are over, the seized weapons and documents would be brought out of the vessel. Twenty nine officials are involved in the operation, in which naval and customs officers are also taking part, he said.

Meanwhile in Kollam, a public interest kitigation was filed in a local court today seeking a direction to the state police to list the captain of the Italian ship as an accused in the case.

The captain of a ship was the 'master' and nothing could happen in the ship without his knowledge, the petition filed by an Advocate Venugopal Vasudevan said. The firing of arms also could have happened with the knowledge of the captain and so, he should also be listed as an accused in the case, the petition said.

Currently only two marines on board the ship were listed as accused and this would weaken the case, he said. The magistrate posted the case for hearing to February 27.

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