Don’t treat Indian laws as trivial, HC warns Italy

via Daily Pioneer-Kochi published on March 2, 2012

The Kerala High Court on Thursday asked Italian authorities not to treat Indian laws as trivial by preparing petitions carelessly. The court issued this warning while pointing out the errors in the petition Italy submitted seeking cancellation of the FIR filed by the Kerala Police against its two Marines for shooting two fishermen to death from aboard an Italian oil tanker on February 15.

At the same time, the First Class Judicial Magistrate Court in Kollam extended till March 5 the police custody of Italian Marines Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone, arrested on February 19 for shooting two fishermen to death from aboard oil tanker Enrica Lexie off the Kerala coast. The period of judicial remand of the duo also would end on that day.

While considering the petition filed by the Italian Consul General seeking quashing of the FIR against the two Marines, Justice PS Gopinathan of the High Court said that there were several errors in it which could have been the result of being careless in preparation. The judge said that nobody had the right to consider Indian laws as trivial just because they were generous.

Asking the Consul General on whose instructions he had filed the petition, the court observed that it had not carried the official seal or other marks of the Italian Government. The judge asked the Consul General to submit a freshly prepared petition, which could be considered on Friday.

The court also asked whether the signatures of the two Marines seen in the affidavit with the petition could have been forged. It wondered how the Marines kept in police custody could have reached their counsel’s office to sign the affidavit. The Director General of Prosecutions informed the court that the Marines had not been allowed to go anywhere from confinement.

Fishermen Valentine alias Jelestine of Kollam and Ajesh Binku of Kulachal, Tamil Nadu were killed in unprovoked firing from aboard Enrica Lexie on February 15 afternoon off the Kerala coast. The Italians are arguing that the Marines who had fired at the fishermen could not be put to trial in India because the incident had occurred on international waters, according to them.

The Italian Consul General, meanwhile, informed the High Court that a legal case had already been initiated against Marines Massimiliano and Girone in Italy charging them with murder under provisions that could get them 21 years’ imprisonment if proved guilty.

The affidavit said that they were on duty on board the vessel as part of their Defence service when the incident occurred. It also requested the court that the case in India against the duo be transferred to Italy in the context of the case initiated against them there.

The Italian authorities submitted a fresh petition in the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court seeking permission for their representatives to witness the forensic tests of the arms and ammunitions the Kerala Police had seized from Enrica Lexie last week and also to arrange better facilities in the prison where two Marines could be lodged after the expiry of their police custody period.

The Kerala Police’s Special Investigation Team probing the shooting incident had in a search on board the vessel on February 25 seized four boxes of arms, ammunitions and other items. It is said that the gun from which the shots that killed the two fishermen were fired was among these confiscated items. The forensic examinations were being conducted to identify the gun

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