Italian marines bail plea rejected

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Kollam (Ker): Two Italian marines charged with murder in the fishermen killing case were today denied bail by a local court on the ground that their release might affect the progress of the case, set to enter the trial stage.

Rejecting the pleas of Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone, detained for the last three months on the charge of shooting to death two Kerala fishermen from an Italian vessel, District and Sessions Judge P D Rajan said releasing them on bail at this juncture might affect the conduct of the case.

The Judge said the prosecution arguments against granting the bail to the accused were valid considering the seriousness of the charges against them and that their presence was essential when the trial began.

Opposing the bail pleas, Public Prosecutor G Mohan Raj argued there could also be possibility of tampering of evidence if the accused were released on bail now. He said granting bail was also against the larger interest of the state and the public. The marines` presence was required as the investigation had been completed and the trial about to start.

The marines onboard ship `Enrica Lexie` had allegedly shot dead fishermen Valentine Jalastine and Ajesh Binki on February 15 off Kollam coast, apparently mistaking them for pirates. The marines, arrested on February 19, are under judicial remand and lodged in the Central Prison at Thiruvanathapuram.

Police had yesterday filed the chargesheet in a court here charging them with murder under the Indian Penal Code and also invoking the International Maritime Law in the incident which had led to a diplomatic row between India and Italy. Within hours after the chargesheet being filed, Italy called back its Ambassador to India for "consultations". Italy insists that the incident occurred in international waters and the marines should be tried in Italian courts rather than Indian courts.

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