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'Crew must cooperate with probe'

The Foreign Minister told his Italian counterpart that Indian law will have to be followed in fishermen killing.

Published: 18th February 2012 10:47 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 05:58 PM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi today called his Indian counterpart S M Krishna who told him that the captain the Italian oil tanker, whose guards killed two Indian fishermen off Kollam coast in Kerala, must cooperate with Indian law enforcers.

During the telephonic talk, Krishna told Terzi that the people onboard the ship 'Enrica Lexie', particularly the Captain of the ship and the two personnel involved in the shooting, should fully cooperate with Indian investigating authorities.

Krishna said the law should be allowed to take its course in connection with the incident.

His remarks came in the backdrop of reports that the Italian ship authorities refused to hand over the personnel involved in the shooting to 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 on board "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".

The Indian fishermen, Ajesh Binki (25) and Jalastein (45), were killed on February 15 off the Kollam coast when armed guards of Italian ship 'Enrica Lexie' fired at their boat.

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.

He hoped the issue will be satisfactorily resolved.

Terzi conveyed to Krishna his "deep regret" at the loss of the lives of the two fishermen and "expressed his desire that both countries should work together to find a mutually acceptable procedure to establish the facts beyond any doubt and determine responsibilities".

Preliminary assessment of the marine authorities is that the armed guards aboard the ship might have fired at the fishing boat mistaking it for a vessel belonging to pirates.

However, Shipping Minister G K Vasan said today it was internationally well-known that when there is a piracy attack, certain protocol should be followed. "It was not followed here".

He said there was a suspicion as to why the Italian ship did not report the incident on time.



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