Italian crewmen remanded to custody for two weeks

TRIVANDRUM - Two Italian naval officers arrested in connection with the killing of two fishermen off Kerala coast on February 15 have been remanded to custody for two weeks. They will be in police custody for the first three days.

By T K Devasia

Published: Wed 22 Feb 2012, 12:06 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 10:55 AM

Karunagapally additional district magistrate passed the order after the two, Latore Massmiliano and Salvatore Girone, were presented before him at his residence at Karunagapally in Quilon district around 4pm on Monday.

The counsels for the accused challenged the trial of the case in the Indian court saying that the incident had taken place outside the Indian territorial waters. They argued that the case was ought to be tried at Italy as per international rules.

However, the magistrate rejected the argument saying that there was prima facie case against them for killing the two fishermen. The two were later taken to Cochin for interrogation.

The public prosecutor in the case said that the police custody of the two, who belong to the Italian Navy, could be extended if there was need. He said that the captain of the ship could also be arraigned for damages.

The accused were brought to Quilon as a case of murder was registered in connection with the incident at the Neendakara Coastal police station in the district. They were accompanied by Italian Consul General Giampaolo Cutillo and the captain of the ship, Enrica Lexie.

The two, who were taken into custody from the ship on Sunday, was brought to Karunagapally through MC road amid high security. The police avoided the National Highway passing through the coastal areas to escape protests from the agitated fisher folks.

However, protestors swarmed the magistrate’s residence when the two were presented before the magistrate. Tension prevailed in front of the magistrate’s residence when activists of the All India Youth Federation and the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, youth wings of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Bharatiya Janata Parity respectively tried to barge into the court premises.The activists marched to the magistrate’s residence demanding maximum punishment to the Italian ship crew responsible for the killing of the two fishermen. The police chased them away. Earlier, the police arrested and removed Youth Congress activists, who marched to the magistrate’s residence Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan flayed the delay in arresting the Italian security officials. Inaugurating a fast organised by a fishermen’s union at Quilon, he accused the state and federal governments of being too soft to the accused. Achuthanandan urged the state and federal governments to ensure the protection of the families of the two fishermen.

Later he visited the residence of Gelastin, one of the two fisherman killed in the firing.

Meanwhile, Enrica Lexie has been moved out of Cochin harbour to the outer sea. The ship has not been allowed to leave and is being guarded by a Coast Guard. Sources said that it will be allowed to leave only after legal procedures are over. The vessel was brought to the Cochin port on Friday.

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