Sea Killing: Italian ship owners agree to cooperate in probe, says Kerala Police

The owners of an Italian ship, whose security crew shot dead two Indian fishermen, have agreed to cooperate with the inquiry, Kerala Police said on Saturday.

Kochi Police Commissioner M.R. Ajith Kumar, who is facilitating and coordinating the probe into the deaths, said the police will meet the officials representing the ship owners on the ship Sunday.

"Yes, this has been agreed and it will take place tomorrow (Sunday). They are not coming before us but we are going to speak with them," said Kumar.

Two fishermen, Ajesh Binki, 25, from Tamil Nadu and Gelastine, 45, from Kerala, were mistaken as pirates and shot dead by the crew of the Italian cargo vessel Wednesday evening, about 14 nautical miles off Alappuzha.

According to officials from the Italian embassy in New Delhi, navy personnel on board the ‘Enrica Lexie’ fired warning shots after they were allegedly attacked in international waters by people on an Indian fishing vessel.

The Italian vessel, currently berthed at Kochi, is owned by Dolphin Tankers and its counsel V.J. Mathew on Saturday held discussions with police. Mathew said discussions are going on at various levels in Italy and in Delhi.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told reporters earlier on Saturday that the state government has sought legal advice from the advocate general.

Late in the evening, the advocate general advised that at no cost should laws of the land be violated and with the vessel now under the control of the Coast Guard and other Indian agencies, there should be no over-reaction.

Chandy also denied that the state and the central governments were lax in taking action against the Italian cargo ship crew.

"This is an incident that has taken place in our country for the first time and because of that, we have been very cautious in taking every step in this regard. This is a very serious issue and because of that, we are moving very carefully to see that the law takes its course in the most proper manner," he said.

He asserted that the Italians who shot dead two Indian fishermen will have to face the law.

"We will not allow the men to escape the legal proceedings," the chief minister told a news conference here. "We are taking it as a very serious case."

Visiting Gelastine's family living near Kollam on Saturday evening, Chandy told reporters that things are moving in the right direction.

"Please note that the compensation that the state government announced (Rs.5 lakh) is only an interim one. The actual compensation and its quantum will have to come from the ones who did the act. And for that there are procedures and we will do the needful," added Chandy who consoled the family of the deceased.

Meanwhile, a team of Italian officials was also here and holding discussions with the police.

Meanwhile, activists of the Bharatiya Janata Party took out a demonstration here, shouting slogans against the government and demanding that those who broke the law should be taken to task.

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