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MEA protests fishermen killing, to file case soon

Italian ambassador says the ship followed international protocol, acted in self-defence; investigation on. HT reports.

delhi Updated: Feb 17, 2012 00:01 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

The external affairs ministry on Thursday summoned the Italian ambassador and registered strong protest against the killing of two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast by an Italian ship’s crew. The ministry said a case would be registered against those responsible for this.

Italian ambassador Giacomo Sanfelice di Monteforte, who was summoned by secretary (west) M Ganapathi, said the cargo ship followed the “international protocol” and acted in self-defence.

Reacting to the incident, defence minister AK Antony said: “It is very serious and unfortunate.” He said investigation was on and the law would take its own course.

The Kerala government has announced Rs 5 lakh each to the next of kin of the two deceased. “We will help them in getting maximum compensation,” chief minister Oommen Chandy said.

Two fishermen including the driver of the boat were killed when guards on board the merchant vessel Enrica Lexie fired at their vessel off the Kollam coast, suspecting them to be pirates. A team of officials from the Coast Guard and Kerala police has started questioning the crew of the ship.

“We have not detained the ship. This will be done only after questioning the captain and private guards who opened fire on the fishermen,” a top Coast Guard official told HT. Kollam district collector PG Thomas said there were no weapons on the vessel.

The owner of the fishing boat, Freddy Antony, said the firing was unprovoked.

First Published: Feb 16, 2012 23:59 IST