Italian minister skips meeting killed fisherman's family

Italian deputy foreign minister Steffan De Mistura who came down to Kollam “cancelled” the plan to meet the family of Jelestine who died in the firing by Italian marines in the sea on February 15.

“It is inappropriate to visit the family as the grief of the fisherfolk is compounded by a second mishap in the sea. I take into account the strong feelings of the entire fishermen, and cancel the plan to visit them,” said Steffan de Mistura while briefing the media here. It is learnt that the family was hesitant to meet the Italian team.

The Italian minister said that he visited Kollam for two reasons, one of which was to visit the family of Jelestine to convey the grief of the Italian people over the incident and express his country’s solidarity with the entire fishermen community.

The second reason was to meet the two navy marines who were on board Enrica Lexi and detained in the state now, to reassure them that the Italian people will never leave them alone and that the whole of Italy will support them in their just cause.

“We also thank the local police for the good treatment they provided to the two marines. They are treated with the respect that a military person deserved and it would be the same if a foreigner was ever detained in Italy. I found the two marines to be so calm and waiting for the outcome of the judgment,” said the minister.

“The Indian judiciary is an independent and autonomous body, and we have all the respect for it. We are awaiting the judgment. The court is hearing the arguments of both the sides, which gives us the hope of a fair outcome,” he said.

Derick Valentine, elder son of Jelestine, told Deccan Chronicle that it was the family’s decision not to meet the Italian minister, fearing it could affect the ongoing investigations into the firing incident.

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