KOLLAM (Kerala): The two crew members of an Italian ship who allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast can be questioned by police for three days, a Kerala court said Monday, while sending them to 14 days custody.
The first three days would be in police custody, ruled Karunagapally First Class Judicial Magistrate K.P. Joy.
Kerala Director General of Police Jacob Punnoose said that the two accused have been remanded for 14 days' and the first three days would be see their questioning by the police.
Latorre Massimillano and Salvatore Girone were picked up from the Italian vessel Enrica Lexie Sunday afternoon and arrested later in the night on murder charges.
Police presented the two accused in the magistrate's house since it was a public holiday.
They were taken to the magistrate in a convoy of 14 vehicles. Top Italian Embassy officials and an interpreter, who is a priest, were also present.
The Italians have been sent to the custody of police for three days. If needed, police can get more time if their questioning did not end in three days, said the public prosecutor soon after the proceedings before the magistrate.
"The magistrate said that during police custody they could be taken to any place as part of the investigation and questioning," he said.
"The Italians' counsel argued that the trial and investigation of the case should not take place here because the incident took place in the international waters," he said.
The entire hearing took more than an hour. Soon after the Italians were sent to police custody, they were driven back to Kochi in a police van.
Two fishermen, Ajesh Binki, 25, and Gelastine, 45, were allegedly mistaken as pirates and shot dead by the crew of the Italian cargo vessel Feb 15, about 14 nautical miles off Alappuzha.
A sizeable crowd of political activists belonging to various parties had gathered outside the magistrate's house. The protestors shouted slogans that the killers be hanged.
Police had a tough time to control the angry crowd and at times they had to use force to disperse the angry crowd.
The Italians were originally supposed to be presented before a magistrate in Kollam but since he was on leave, they were taken to the house First Class Judicial Magistrate Joy.
Since the dead bodies of the two fishermen were first brought to the shores of Kollam, the investigation has been taken over by district Superintendent of Police Sam Christy Daniel.
Police have registered a murder case under the Indian Penal Code.