HC allows fishermen kin plea, Italy ship to stay till April 2

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Expressing dissatisfaction over the investigation into the Italian firing case, the Kerala High Court on Friday stayed till April 2, a single bench order allowing the Italian vessel, Enrica Lexie, to sail out of the Kochi port.

A division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice, Manjula Chellur and V. Chithambaresh, passed the interim order while considering the appeals filed by the relatives of the two fishermen who were killed in the incident.

Justice P. S. Gopinathan on Thursday had directed the State to permit the ship to continue its voyage on furnishing a bond for Rs 3 crore and an undertaking before the Deputy Conservator, Cochin Port Trust that the vessel, master, and the crew would be produced as and when required by the authorities to a notice issued three months in advance.

The court orally observed that it was not happy with the conditions and asked the State and centre how they would secure the presence of the master and the crew as and when required.

Retorting to the assistant solicitor general, P. Parameshwaran Nair’s statement that the Centre is not happy with the order, the court asked why he had not filed an appeal.

The court also asked the Centre how the conditions mentioned in the affidavit could be enforced if they violated it.

The Advocate General, K. P. Dandapani, appearing for the State said, "We will not be able to get them." He added that the vessel was trying to escape by executing a bond for Rs 3 core on stamp paper worth only Rs 50.

The AG submitted that even though he had sought an adjournment till the preparation of the Forensic Science Lab report, the single bench passed the order.

The court also criticised the AG's remarks that they were only able to seize the weapons the Italians had produced. The Court asked why the investigation agency had not seized all the weapons from the ship.

The court also asked the counsel for the ship about the possibilities of enhancing the bond of Rs 3 crore to Rs 10 crore.

Marines, Lattore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone are currently lodged in the Poojappura Central Prison facing murder charges.

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