'Italians who killed Indian fishermen can't escape'
Oommen Chandy today made it clear that the Kerala govt was not buying the version of the Italians that their naval crew opened fire only after coming under attack from the Indian fishing boat. Italian ship crew refuses to hand over accused | Govt terms Italian ship firing 'unacceptable'Updated: Feb 18, 2012 21:08 IST
The Italians who shot dead two Indian fishermen on the sea after mistaking them to be pirates will have to face the law, Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy said on Saturday.
"We will not allow the men to escape the legal proceedings," the chief minister told a news conference in Kochi. "We are taking it as a very serious case."
The Congress leader made it clear that the Kerala government was not buying the version of the Italians that their naval crew opened fire only after coming under attack from the Indian fishing boat.
"We are not accepting their case," he said. "We are collecting evidence. We are at it. We are quiet sure we can do the necessary things against the culprits. At the same time we have to go by law."
Two fishermen, Ajesh Binki from Tamil Nadu and Gelastine from Kerala, were shot dead by the crew of the Italian cargo vessel Wednesday evening about 14 nautical miles off Alappuzha.
The Italian embassy in New Delhi says that navy personnel on board "Enrica Lexie" fired warning shots after being allegedly attacked in international waters by people on an Indian fishing vessel.
The Italian ship claimed the incident happened in international waters, a point challenged by Indian authorities.
The chief minister denied that the Kerala and central governments were lax in taking action against the Italian crew.
Faced with a volley of questions, Chandy shot back: "Do you think they (Italians) are free now?
"This is an incident that has taken place in our country for the first time. Because of that, we have been very cautious in taking every step in this regard.
"We are moving very carefully to see that the law takes its course in the most proper manner," said Chandy.
He pointed out that police had registered a murder case against the Italian officials.
"Please bear with us because technically the ship is in our custody," he added.
A team of police officials led by Additional Director General of Police P. Chandrasekharan will meet the Italian crew and officials on board the ship now berthed at the Kochi Port.
First Published: Feb 18, 2012 15:06 IST