Kerala fishermen killings: Italian Deputy Foreign Minister meeting MEA officials in Delhi

   Feb 22, 1:29 pm

New Delhi, Feb.22 (ANI): Visiting Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan De Mistura has begun a meeting with Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur and senior MEA officials to resolve the impasse arising out of the killing of two Kerala fishermen by two Italian marines.

Mistura's meeting with MEA officials on Wednesday took place even as the family of one of the two fishermen killed last week, filed a case against the Italian shipping company in the Kerala High Court and sought a compensation of Rs. one crore.

They demanded that the ship should not be allowed to leave Kerala till the company compensates them.

The two Italian soldiers-Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone-who were guarding the Italian merchant vessel Enrica Lexie, are currently in three-days police custody and 14 days judicial custody.

They allegedly mistook the Keralite fishermen for Somalian pirates and were arrested on Sunday and charged with murder.

India and Italy are now engaged in serious diplomatic talks over the arrests.

Italy has claimed that the Indian police took "coercive" and "unilateral" action when it escorted the two soldiers off the oil tanker on Sunday and arrested them. It will today move the Kerala High Court seeking quashing of the case against the marines.

On Tuesday, a magistrate in Kerala issued a search warrant that empowers the police to search the ship and seize the murder weapons.

The tanker was sailing from Singapore to Egypt when the incident took place.

Italy insists that the marines should not be prosecuted in India as the tanker was flying under an Italian flag in international waters when the shooting occurred last Wednesday about 23 nautical miles off the Kerala coast.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna has publicly urged the Italians to cooperate in the ongoing investigations, while Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has termed the incident off the Kollam coast as "cold-blooded murder" and promised "strict legal action". (ANI)

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