Italy moves Ker HC seeking quashing of charges against marines

Italy moves Ker HC seeking quashing of charges against marines

Italy today raised the pitch over the killing of two Indian fishermen by its marines escalated by moving the Kerala High Court seeking quashing of murder charges against them and its visiting envoy demanding that truth be ascertained.

However, India made it clear that the issue would be handled according to the law of the land and said the "very fair and free judiciary" will take the right decision.

Italy's concerns on the incident were conveyed by its Deputy Foreign Minister Steffan de Mistura, who rushed here this morning, during his meeting with his Indian counterpart Preneet Kaur.

After the hour-long meeting, both stuck to the known stands of their respective countries even as the Italian Deputy Foreign Minister said the ties between the two countries are "very important for all of us".

"As far as the law point is concerned, they have their interpretations and we have our interpretations. As of today, the two people (Italian Marines arrested) are on Indian soil and tomorrow the Indian court is going to decide what steps are to be taken further," Kaur told reporters.

"So as far as we are concerned in India, we certainly will go by our law," she said as her Italian counterpart maintained that the incident took place in "international waters".

In Kochi, Italian authorities moved the Kerala High Court seeking quashing of FIR against two Naval guards charged with murder. They were charged by a local court on Monday.

Mistura said there was an agreement on three points, but Kaur denied having reached any understanding. "The only agreement is that the law will take its own course," she said.

Expressing regret over the incident, Mistura said: "We do acknowledge that two Indian citizens died. No one doubts it and we are terribly sad. The second one is that the incident took place in international waters and at the same time the investigations will assert the exact position."

"We all want truth. The truth will help us in (finding) proper way of handling the issue," he said and added that he would go to Kerala this evening. Mistura said ties between India and Italy were "very important for all of us" and that the "tragic incident" needs to be analysed properly.

"This tragic incident needs to be analysed properly and we can continue having a proper dialogue about finding a solution to it," he said. In Thiruvananthapuram, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the government would go ahead with prosecution of the two Italians, saying 'it is the right and power of the state'.

"The two Italians have been booked under Section 302 of IPC and government's stand is it will proceed with the investigation. It is the right and power of the state. The Centre has extended full support to Kerala's position," he said.

Two fishermen were killed by Italian guards off the Kerala coast on Wednesday last.
Italy had on Monday said that there were "currently considerable differences of a legal character" on the issue of the arrest of the two Italian soldiers, who opened fire at fishermen mistaking them to be pirates off Kochi coast.

Italian Foreign Ministry had said it will "continue on a political level the action so far carried out by a delegation of experts from the Italian foreign, defence and justice ministries." Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi is also slated to visit India next Tuesday.