Italian marines pressurised Captain to cover up

Rajesh Ahuja

Two Italian marines accused of shooting dead two Indian fishermen allegedly tried to cover their tracks after the incident by pressurising the captain of their vessel Enrica Lexie to generate a report for international maritime security organisations that claimed the fishermen were armed and that’s why they opened fire, sources told HT.

“The captain of Enrica Lexie generated an email report after the shooting incident on February 15, 2012 which claimed that six of the fishermen on Indian boat St. Antony were armed. But Indian investigators found all 11 fishermen on board the Indian boat St. Antony were unarmed. There was no weapon on the boat,” said a home ministry official requesting anonymity.

According to details available to HT, the email was sent to a marine security organisation for further transmission to International Maritime Organisation, which is a United Nations agency for improving maritime safety.

“But when the National Investigation Agency (NIA) during its probe into the case, questioned the Italian captain of ‘Enrica Lexie’, he denied being a witness to the incident of shooting and claimed that he generated the email under pressure from the accused marines. The plan was to show Indian fishermen as pirates,” said the official.

The NIA declined to offer comment for the story with an agency spokesperson saying: “We will submit our chargesheet in the trial court once all issues regarding to the case are settled in the Supreme Court.”

During the shooting by the Italian marines — Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone —who were deployed on ‘Enrica Lexie’ to keep it safe from pirates, two of the fishermen died as they were navigating the boat and thus standing. The rest remained unhurt as they were sleeping.


Original Article