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Police lured ship into domestic waters: Italy

New Delhi, Mar 23, 2013, DHNS: 2:16 IST

‘Enrica was in international area’

Italian marines Latorre Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone. File AFP photo
Italy on Saturday alleged that the Kerala Police in February 2012 “lured” the oil tanker MV Enrica Lexie to Cochin port, after bullets fired by marines Latorre Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone killed two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast.

A day after the marines returned to New Delhi to stand trial in the case, Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan de Mistura told a TV channel that the Kerala Police had “lured” the captain of the MV Enrica Lexie to the Cochin Port to arrest the marines.

When asked to confirm whether the ship was lured back or brought back in a deceptive manner, Mistura said: “I can tell you what I know rather than confirming because I hope the Indian side will discover that. Point number one is, what you said is correct. He was there. Point number two, he (the captain) returned not inside the national waters because he was never in the national waters. But I will quote instead, I think a senior official of the Kerala Police, who actually very proudly said they lured him in.” Mistura has accompanied the marines to New Delhi.

Mistura said both India and Italy should have realised much before that Kerala was not the right place to try the marines as the courts there did not have jurisdiction over the case.

“Instead of saying where they (India) made a mistake, (I would) rather say what we could have done better. We should have been able, at the beginning, to realise that the Kerala courts were, in fact, as the Supreme Court has indicated, the wrong places to handle an extremely complicated case,” said the Italian deputy foreign minister.

Prolonging strategy


Asked whether India and Italy committed any mistake while handling the case, Mistura said: “We should have been able to find some formula much earlier. There was a feeling that perhaps there was a strategy for prolonging this.”

The Supreme Court on January 18 observed that Kerala had no jurisdiction to investigate the alleged killing of the fishermen.

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi on Friday told “La Republica” that Rome’s move to renege on its undertaking to the Supreme Court that the marines will return after a four-week vacation was necessary to secure a guarantee from New Delhi that they would be entitled to better living conditions during their stay in India. Italy also wanted to ensure that charges brought against Massimiliano and Girone would not entail the death penalty.

“They know that they have the support of the Italian government and Italy’s commitment to ensure that the situation was resolved in the best possible manner. We want to bring our two riflemen home,” said Terzi.

“It must be clear that our efforts don’t end here. We’ve now opened a channel for diplomatic and judicial communication with India. Communication that can now get off to a fresh start based on the principle of mutual respect between the two countries, as the United Nations had asked on more than one occasion, ” the Italian minister said.

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