Marines case at snail's pace as witnesses fail to appear

Published: 06th August 2013 08:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th August 2013 08:34 AM   |  A+A-

Despite Supreme Court directive for a speedy trial in Italian Marines case, the probe is moving at a snail’s pace as crucial Italian witnesses in the case have not yet appeared before the NIA for interrogation.

The witnesses were on board Italian Vessel Enrica Lexie when the two marines -- Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Lattore -- allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast on February 15, 2012.

According to sources, three of the witnesses had appeared before the NIA, but four other crucial witnesses have not yet turned up despite serving notices.

“It is not clear when the remaining witnesses will be available for questioning. It seems the probe will take some time,” sources said.

It is learnt that four Italian marines had sought exemption from appearing before the NIA.

Citing Italy’s sovereign guarantee in the case, New Delhi had asked Rome to facilitate the questioning of crucial witnesses in the case.

“There is no response as of now when they will appear before the investigators,” sources said.

After re-registering the case on April 4, 2013, the NIA had asked Captain and four other marines of Enrica Lexie to appear before the agency to probe into the circumstances that led to the firing.

The Supreme Court in its order on January 18 had said the Kerala Government had no jurisdiction to prosecute the two Italian marines involved in the unprovoked shooting and killing of Indian fishermen --Ajesh Binki and Valentine alias Gelastine-- on board a fishing trawler.

In its order, the Bench had said that the shooting took place at a distance of about 20.5 nautical miles off the Kerala coast which falls under the Contiguous Zone, over which the Kerala Government has no jurisdiction. Subsequently on April 1, 2013, Union Ministry of Home Affairs handed over the case to the NIA for a fresh probe.

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