Italian Govt petition admitted by HC

Kochi: Kerala High Court today admitted a petition filed by the Italian Government seeking to quash the FIR against two of its naval personnel, arrested in connection with the recent shooting to death of two Indian fishermen off the state coast.

The petition filed by Italian Consul General in Mumbai Gian Paolo Cutillo and the two accused – Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone – also sought a stay on all further proceedings in the case against the two marines, arrested in connection with the February 15 incident.

They submitted that Kerala Police has no authority to conduct investigation in the case and courts in India have no jurisdiction as the incident occurred beyond the Indian territorial waters.

Justice P S Gopinathan, before whom the petition came up, asked the Consul General`s counsel why they were not cooperating with the investigation. "Why don`t you cooperate with the investigation?," court asked the counsel.

The counsel responded, saying the Kerala police had no jurisdiction to investigate the case. The court then granted time till next week to the central and state governments to file their counter affidavits.

State Director General of Prosecutions T Asaf Ali told the court that the killing of the two Indian fishermen was a "brutal murder". The recovery of the weapons, used for the killing, had not been effected so far and the police propose to approach the Kollam court for extending the police remand of the two marines (which ends today), he said.

Assistant Solicitor General V Parameshwaran Nair requested the court to implead Coast Guard as additional respondent in the case. The court said since the Union of India was a party in the proceedings, all departments are under it.

Meanwhile, Abhinaya Xaier (17) and Aguna Xavier (15), sisters of Ajesh Binki (25), one of the two fishermen killed by the marines, today moved the high court seeking Rs two crore compensation. They said the amount can be raised by selling the vessel through the high court registrar.

Doramma, wife Jelestine alias Valentine (45), another fisherman killed, had already filed a petition in the high court seeking Rs one crore compensation.