Kerala govt opposes Italian marines' plea

Ploy to take accused back to their country, govt tells court

The Kerala government on Tuesday opposed the plea of two Italian marines facing trial for shooting down two Indian fishermen that their bail conditions be relaxed to enable them to go home to celebrate Christmas with their families.

Director-General of Prosecution Azaf Ali, who appeared for the state at the Kerala High Court on Tuesday, alleged that the request was a ploy of Italy to tactfully take them back to the country.

He said that once they leave India, they may not return, though the Italian ambassador to India has filed an affidavit guaranteeing their return after the Christmas celebrations. He asked what the court will do against the ambassador if he backtracks.

The DGP pointed out that Italy had also registered a case against the petitioners and it could very well say that they were detained in connection with the case pending there.
Ali told the court that the petitioners are free to celebrate Christmas in the state. If they want, they can bring their families here. While they are particular in celebrating Christmas, they have forgotten that the families of the fishermen whom they shot dead on February 15 off the Kollam coast are not celebrating the festival, mourning the loss of their dear ones.

He also argued that the presence of marines is required during the trial of the case in India.

Since diplomatic relations between Italy and India are to be taken into account, Justice N K Balakrishnan has asked the Union government to inform its stand to the court by Wednesday afternoon when it takes up the case.  
The Italian ambassador who was present at the court said that he has taken the responsibility of bringing the petitioners back to India, if the plea is granted.
The marines have requested a two-week stay in Italy.

Italian marines Latro Massimilliano and Salvatore Girone, who were part of the security provided to Italian merchant vessel Enrica Lexi, had shot at an Indian boat mistaking it to be a pirate vessel, which killed the two Indian fishermen aboard the boat.

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