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Italian marines remanded to 14 days judicial custody

March 05, 2012 18:58 IST
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Two Italian marines charged with murder in connection with the killing of two Indian fishermen, were on Monday remanded in judicial custody for 14 days by a court in Kollam and sent to the Central Prison at Thiruvananthapuram.

The marines, Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone, were produced before Chief Judicial Magistrate A K Gopakumar as their police custody ended on Monday afternoon.

The court turned down their plea that they should be given all privileges in prison enjoyed by military officials as Italian government still considered them as military officials. The magistrate said that under Indian law, there was no provision to accord such special privilege.

The court, however, directed the prison authorities not to lodge them along with other prisoners and to provide them medical facilities. They should also be allowed to interact with Italian visitors one hour every day between 10 am and 1 pm.

On their plea that they be given special accommodation outside the prison, the magistrate said it was not within the purview of the court to consider.

However, the court said if the ADGP (prison) thought it necessary, he could take a decision after consulting the state government and taking into account the security aspects.

The court permitted the prosecution's request to seek the services of the experts of the Mercantile Marine Department to inspect the electronic equipment on the ship Enrica Lexie from which the fishermen were fired at while they were fishing in a boat along with nine others.

The court asked prison authorities to arrange for Italian food for the marines during their stay in prison.

The fishermen, Valentine Jalastine and Ajesh Binki, who had taken to the sea on boat 'St Antony' from Neendakara in Kollam, were allegedly shot dead by the marines on February 15.

The marines were arrested on February 19 and have been in police custody since then.

A special investigation team, headed by Kochi City Police Commissioner M R Ajith Kumar, has been investigating the case.

The fire arms allegedly used by the marines had been seized from the ship and sent to the Government Forensic Laboratory for ballistic examination and analysis.

The ship is still anchored off Kochi Port as the Kerala high court has not permitted the vessel to leave.

The state and central authorities had rejected Italy's demand for the case to be tried outside India.

Earlier in the day, the issue also figured in the state assembly where Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the investigation was progressing well and no leniency would be shown towards the accused.

Meanwhile, various fishermen outfits took out marches in Neendakara and before the state secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram asking government to put in place an effective system to ensure safety of fishermen in the sea.

A high-level meeting of Navy, Coast Guard and state authorities was convened on Monday evening by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to work out a coastal safety plan.

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