New Delhi, Aug 13: The two Italian marines, accused of killing two fishermen off Kerala coast, have refused to record their statement with National Investigation Agency (NIA) which is preparing its charge sheet in the case.
The marines Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, who were on board the Italian vessel 'Enrica Lexie' when they had allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen on February 15, 2012, exercised their right to remain silent before the probe agency, official sources said today.
They said the silence of the two accused will have no bearing on the case as NIA was awaiting forensic, ballastic and some scientific reports pertaining to the case before a charge sheet could be filed in the specially designated court.
The two, who have been at the Italian Embassy here since their arrival, have been slapped with murder charges for gunning down two fishermen Ajesh Binki and Jelestine. NIA has questioned and recorded the statements of Master of the vessel, Umberto Vittelli, Chief Officer James Mandley Samson, Second Officer Sahil Gupta, Seman Fulbaria Marendra Kumar Naren and former ordinary seaman Kantamuich Tirumal Rao.
The Supreme Court had shifted the case to the national capital saying the Kerala Police have no jurisdiction over the case and backed the government's decision to hand over the case to NIA.
Notwithstanding Italian government's claim that the incident had taken place in the international waters and Indian courts have no jurisdiction to conduct the trial, the Supreme Court had ruled that the incident took place at a distance of about 20.5 nautical miles from the coastline of Kerala and, therefore, it occurred not within the territorial waters of the coastline of Kerala state but within the Contiguous Zone.
The two marines had been sent to their country tyo cast their ballot in the elections after which had refused to return. However, as India mounted a diplomatic offensive, the Italian government reversed its earlier decision and sent back the marines to India on March 22 this year.