Police in Kerala have arrested two Italian marines for allegedly shooting dead two Indian fishermen they mistook for pirates during a confrontation off the southern Indian coast last week. The pair, who were named as Latorre Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone, were due to be brought before a magistrate later today in Karunangapally, a town around140 kilometers south of Kochi where they were formally arrested. Both were part of a six-member naval security team on board the MV Enrica Lexie, an Italian oil tanker. The incident has sparked a diplomatic row between Italy and India. Italian officials said the guards opened fire on the fishing boat on February 15 after mistaking it for a pirate vessel. They said the fishing boat failed to respond to warnings after sailing too close to the tanker. Indian officials say the fishermen were not armed and that 11 of the 13-man crew were asleep when the shooting started. The two victims were steering the boat. The Italians also say the incident occurred in international waters; therefore India cannot prosecute the guards. India disputes this, saying the shootings were within its territorial waters and have refused to let the tanker leave Kochi harbor where it is anchored. P Chandrashekharan, Additional Director General of Police, Southern Range, said police have already questioned the Italian guards and their captain. “Detailed investigations would be completed as soon as possible,” he said. Police sources said the Enrica Lexie would not be permitted to leave until they complete the investigation.
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