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Police file charges against Italian marines

Kerala police announce investigation into deadly shooting of two fishermen

Police file charges against Italian marines
Italy's under-secreatry for Foreign Affairs Staffan De Mistura (left) meets Archbishop Maria Calist Soosa Pakiam of Trivandrum (Photo by reporter) reporter, Thiruvananthapuram

May 18, 2012

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Police in the southern Indian state of Kerala today filed a charge sheet against two Italian marines accused of killing two fishermen, announcing investigations against the pair were complete. The announcement by Kerala police marks the latest sign India plans to follow through with prosecutions against Latorre Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone for allegedly shooting dead the two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala on February 15. “Our investigation has been completed and we have submitted the charge-sheet with 150 documents,” said M.R. Ajithkumar, head of special investigations with the Kerala police. Evidence included forensic and ballistics reports linking the two marines to the incident, which occurred when they were serving as security officers as part of a six-man team on the oil tanker Enrica Lexie as it travelled from Singapore en route to Egypt. Accounts of how Valentine Jalastine and Ajeesh Binki died on board their fishing vessel, the Saint Antony, remain a subject of dispute between India and Italy, with Delhi maintaining the attack was unprovoked and Rome suggesting the ship was in international waters. The police arrested Massimiliano and Girone four days after the incident and they remain in Thiruvananthapuram jail. They will be transferred to Kochi Borstal School in the coming weeks following negotiations between Italy and India. Having filed a charge sheet 90 days after the pair were arrested, in accordance with Indian law, the police have now turned the case over to the courts, which will hold a bail hearing tomorrow. Meanwhile, the Italian under-secretary of foreign affairs Staffan De Mistura today met with Archbishop Maria Calist Soosa Pakiam of Trivandrum to further look into the incident. The archbishop told Mistura, who has led Italian efforts to represent the accused, that the killings were an accident. “They are ready to follow the course of law,” he said. “They want a speedy trial in the case.” Archbishop Maria said Mistura assured him that Italy would pay 10 million rupees (US$183,000) to each of the families of the dead fishermen on humanitarian grounds and 1.7 million rupees ($31,144) to the owner of the Saint Antony. Related reports: Police arrest two Italian marines
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