Fishermen's killing: Italian team talks to Indian officials

Fishermen's killing: Italian team talks to Indian officials

An Italian delegation, including officials from their Legal and Foreign ministries, arrived here today and met Indian officials in connection with the killing of two Indian fishermen by the guards on board an Italian ship.

The visiting team discussed the case with senior External Affairs Ministry officials during which the Indian side expressed hope that the Italians will cooperate in ensuring that law of the land takes its course.

MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said both the sides had a "fairly comprehensive" discussion.

"We had a fairly comprehensive discussion whereby we have explained to them the rationale of our position and the situation as it exists today.

"We have also explained to them that as good partners and as External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had requested yesterday, we hope Italy will cooperate with us in ensuring law of the land takes its course. We also requested them to fully cooperate with Kerala Police," he told reporters.

Official sources have said that the team will also go to Kochi for legal consultations in connection with the case.

Meanwhile, Krishna had made it clear that the captain and crew of the Italian ship will have to surrender and cooperate in the investigation of the case.

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi had yesterday called his Indian counterpart Krishna who told him that the captain of the Italian oil tanker must cooperate with Indian law enforcers.

Krishna, according to a statement by the External Affairs Ministry, said the loss of lives could have been avoided had the naval personnel onboard "Enrica Lexie" been careful and exercised restraint.

He told his Italian counterpart that "our information clearly indicated that the Indian fishermen were not carrying any arms or ammunition on board their vessel. Indian fishing vessels do not carry these on board but only fishing nets and the fish they catch".

Krishna told the Italian Foreign Minister of his telephonic conversation with Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy who conveyed "the strong public opinion and agitation in Kerala" at the loss of the innocent lives and the need for an urgent resolution of this issue.

The authorities of the oiltanker had agreed yesterday night to hand over by two of the marines onboard the vessel who allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen on February 15 off Kollam coast.

The developments came shortly after India did some tough talking on the need for the Italian ship authorities to cooperate with the probe into the killing of the fishermen.

The two fishermen -- Ajesh Binki (25) and Jalastein (45) -- were killed off Kollam coast near Kerala when armed guards of the ship fired at their boat, suspecting it to be a vessel belonging to pirates.