Allow Kollam court to try Italian marines: Chandy urges PM

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Oommen Chandy
Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 23: The Italian marines Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre who killed two fishermen off the Kerala coast 13 months ago must be tried by a court in Kollam, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy stressed on Saturday.

In a letter sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he pointed out that documents pertaining to the shooting incident in Feb 2012 are currently with the District Sessions Court in Kollam. Chandy noted that all the testimonies which have been recorded so far are in Malayalam. The trial will be greatly delayed if these testimonies are translated into English, he said.

Chandy also wanted the prime minister to ensure that the families of the two victims as well as the fishermen who are the witnesses in the case do not have to travel to Delhi for each hearing in the national capital.

However, the Supreme Court earlier this year ruled that Kerala Police do not have the authority to prosecute the marines. The apex court had, on Jan 18, directed that a special court be set up in Delhi to try Girone and Latorre.

Incidentally, the accused returned to India only on Friday after a prolonged diplomtaic standoff between India and Italy. Rome initially refused to send back the marines who were allowed by the Supreme Court to go to their homeland to vote in the local elections on Feb 24/25.

Italian ambassador Daniele Mancini had given an undertaking to the apex court that Latorre and Girone would definitely come back by Mar 24. Despite this, Rome suddenly changed its stand.

On Mar 11, the Italian foreign ministry informed its Indian counterpart that the marines will not be returning as per schedule. Delhi was outraged by Rome's decision and Manmohan Singh described it as unacceptable.

The Supreme Court then barred Mancini from leaving India, and slammed him for reneging. On its part, the External Affairs Ministry made it clear that bilateral ties with Italy are being reviewed. Due to the diplomatic pressure, Rome succumbed.

The marines at last arrived in Delhi to face trial for shooting dead Gelastine aka Valentine and Ajesh Binki on Feb 15, 2012. Both of them were fired upon when a fishing trawler 'Saint Antony' drifted near the Italian vessel Enrica Lexie.

OneIndia News

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