Talks between the Kerala Police and Italian ship Enrica Lexie's authorities to facilitate the arrest of six crew members who allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen headed for a standoff on Friday.
The Italian side insisted the accused could not be tried under Indian laws. According to sources privy to the talks, Italian consul general Giampaolo Cutillo insisted that the firing (on Wednesday) took place in international waters so Indian authorities could not detain the ship and crew.
The talks took place in the backdrop of a letter from the police to the ship's captain to hand over the accused."We have forwarded the notice sent by the Kerala Police to the Italian foreign ministry. Till further orders from the ministry we will not engage in any talks," said advocate VJ Mathews, who is assisting the Italian authorities.
The development could trigger another round of diplomatic row amid mounting pressure of locals on Indian officials for decisive action against the people who shot the unarmed fishermen off the Kollam coast around 4.45pm on Wednesday.
The external affairs ministry had on Thursday summoned Italian ambassador Giacomo Sanfelice di Monteforte and registered strong protest against the killing.
Earlier in the day, defence minister AK Antony said strict action would be taken against the guilty.
The Italian claim did not wash with the regional commander of Coast Guard (west), inspector general SPS Basra, who said in Kochi the fishing boat was in Indian exclusive zone when it was fired upon.
Ballistics experts have recovered two bullets from the fishing boat. The Indian Navy and Cost Guard vessels have escorted the 58,000 tonne Italian merchant vessel - carrying crude oil and cargo from Egypt to Singapore - to the Kochi Port. The ship's crew includes 19 Indians.