India: Centre seeks legal view in marines case

The Centre has sought the views of the Law Ministry and the Additional Solicitor General, to take a final call on the options¬† suggested by the Italy to examine four of its marines as witnesses in connection with the killing of two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast last year. Refusing to send the marines to India for examination by the NIA, Italy had suggested three alternatives — video-conference, visit of investigating officer to Rome and submission of written answers — to record their statements.

“Italian Government has informed us that the marines are holding sensitive posts and hence it won’t be possible to relieve them to come over to India and depose as witnesses,” said Union Ministry of External Affairs  spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin.

The NIA had initiated the probe following a Supreme Court ruling in April to find out whether Italian marines Salvatore Girone and Massimilano Lattore, who were onboard Italian vessel Enrica Lexie, had killed the two Indian fishermen off the Alappuzha coast on February 15, 2012.

The accused marines had claimed that they had fired warning shots on the premise that the fishing boat, St Antony, was a pirate skiff. The four marines were also on board the ship at the time of the incident.

Akbaruddin pointed out that the Centre had recently made a formal request for the examination of the four marines, after the NIA had finished recording the statement of all other witnesses, including two Italian crew members.


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