The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the killing of two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast in 2012 by two Italian marines, is likely to question four Italian witnesses through video conferencing.
The move comes after the Italian Government turned down New Delhi’s request to send the four marines to India to be questioned by the NIA and the Attorney General of India advising the Union Home Ministry against sending an NIA team to Rome to quiz them.
The four marines -- Renato Voglino, Massimo Andronicus, Antonio Fontano and Alexander Conte -- were onboard the Italian vessel MT Enrica Lexie when Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone allegedly opened fire at the Indian fishing trawler on February 15, 2012, killing Ajesh Binki and Valentine alias Gelastine.
Sources said a judicial request would be executed for questioning the witnesses through video conferencing in the presence of a magistrate.
“They are likely to be called to the Indian Embassy in Rome and the investigators will record their statements through video conferencing in the presence of a magistrate. This could happen as early as next week to accelerate the probe,” sources added.
However, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has refused to divulge the details on questioning the four marines through video conferencing.
“My understanding is that there are options on the table. We are examining them very closely. Once a decision is taken and it is held, we will communicate it to you,” MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
The statement of the four marines assumes significance in the light of revelation in the summary report that bullets fired from the weapon could be in possession of other marines on board the oil tanker, Enrica Lexie.
The investigating agency has already recorded the statements of the Master of the vessel, Umberto Vittelli, Chief Officer James Mandley Samson, Second Officer Sahil Gupta, Seamen Fulbaria Marendra, Kumar Naren and former ordinary seaman Kantamuich Tirumal Rao.
The Kerala Police was handling the case at first. The Supreme Court later shifted the case to Delhi, saying the Kerala Police have no jurisdiction over the case and backed the government’s decision to hand over the case to the NIA.
Also read:Italian marines refuse to record their statements with NIA
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