Kerala govt opposes release of Italian vessel

Kochi: The Kerala government today opposed release of Italian ship Enrica Lexie, detained here after two Italian marines on board allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast on March 15, saying it cannot be permitted to leave at this stage as investigations are on.

The submission in this regard was made in the Kerala High Court by senior government pleader on a petition by Dolfin Tankers Ltd, owner of the vessel, seeking its release. The government counsel stated that investigation was going on and the ship cannot be permitted to leave at this stage. Justice Harun-Ul-Rasheed, before whom the petition came up, directed the government to file a statement indicating the stage of investigation.

The petitioner contended that police had recovered some material objects and also seized some weapons and that the continued detention of the ship since February 15 has caused them huge losses. They said the authorities were not permitting the ship to leave port citing technical grounds.

The fishermen, Valentine Jalastine and Ajesh Binki, who had put out to sea on `St Antony` from Neendakara in Kollam, were allegedly shot dead by the marines on February 15 after suspecting them to be pirates. The marines Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Gironi were arrested and charged with the murder of the fishermen.