The Kerala high court on Tuesday dismissed a petition filed by Italy to quash the FIR filed against two of its marines who allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast on Feb 15 and slapped a court fee of one lakh on it.
The two marines, Lattorre Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone, arrested on Feb 19 are in judicial custody now. Dismissing the plea Justice PS Gopinathan said Kerala police has the jurisdiction to file the case as the incident occurred in Indian territorial waters. The judge also observed that marines cannot claim sovereignty as the ship ‘Enrica Lexie’ was not an Italian government ship but a private cargo carrier.
The judge also directed the Italian embassy to deposit a court fee of one lakh in two weeks’ time. The plea filed by Italian Consul General in Mumbai Gian Paolo Cutillo, and the two accused, had sought a stay on all proceedings in the case pending before a Kollam court which had earlier rejected their plea. They contended that Kerala Police has no authority to conduct probe as the incident occurred beyond Indian territorial waters. However, the court rejected their contention and imposed the court fee.
Italy has taken a strong posture after its efforts to release the marines failed. It has rushed many high-level delegations to the country to sort out the contentious issue. Though it brokered an out of court compensation package Kerala has insisted that criminal case registered against the two would continue.