Enrica Lexie crew arrested

Enrica Lexie crew arrested

Italian authorities arrange for lawyers

After almost four days of delay following the necessity to complete diplomatic formalities, the Kerala police on Sunday arrested two Italian navy personnel who were manning the security of the Italian ship M V Enrica Lexie for firing at an Indian fishing boat and killing two fishermen.

CAUGHT: Kerala police take Latorre Massimiliano (left) and Salvatore Girone (right), crew of the Enrica Lexie, for interrogation in Kochi on Sunday. REUTERS

The arrest was announced by Inspector General of Police K Padmakumar. Two fishermen Ajesh Pinki from Kulachal in Kanyakumari district in Tamil Nadu and Jalestine from Kollam in Kerala were killed when security personnel of Enrica Lexie allegedly fired at their boat on February 15.

A team of police personnel led by Kochi city police commissioner M R Ajith Kumar arrested the marines identified as Lestore and Silva Tore. Before the arrest, police also recorded the statements of the ship’s crew. Consul general of Italy Giampaolo Cutillo was also present in the ship.

Earlier, after days of discussions with Italian consul officials, Kerala police on Saturday night had served an ultimatum on the accused to surrender by Sunday morning. The police also clarified that the arrested would have to face legal procedures in India.

The two Italians were later taken to Kochi and questioned at an undisclosed location by a team of police personnel led by Kollam city police commissioner Sam Christie Daniel. The police have registered a case for murder against the arrested.

The Italian authorities have arranged a team of high profile lawyers in Kochi to argue the case on behalf of the arrested.

Padmakumar said the arrested will be handed over to Kollam police who are investigating the case. He said the ship’s crew cooperated with police investigation. The ship which is currently in the custody of Indian security agencies will be released only after completing legal formalities, said Padmakumar.

Subsequent to the mishap, the Italian authorities have been insisting that India is not empowered to take action against the ship crew arguing that the incident had occurred in international waters. Four top officials of Italian defence agencies had held discussions with Kochi City police commissioner in the issue on Saturday.

However, the claim was rebutted by Indian authorities. IG of coast guard SPS Basra said the boat was in India’s exclusive economic zone when it was fired upon.