Enrica Lexie case: Italy summons Indian envoy

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 14, 2012 12:06 hrs

Rome: Italy on Thursday called Indian Ambassador to their country Debabrata Saha to express its concern over the two marines who are now languishing in Kochi owing to legal delays after they were arrested for gunning down two Indian fishermen mistaking them as sea pirates in February.

While the marines- Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone- got bail later by the Kerala High Court in May end, they were not allowed to go outside Kochi.

On Feb 15 this year, security officials of the Italian cargo vessel Enrica Lexie allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen mistaking them as pirates in the high seas off Ambalapuzha in Kerala. They- Latore and Salvatore- were subsequently arrested.

At the instructions from the Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, the Secretary General of the Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Michele Valensise, summoned Debabrata Saha  on Thursday and expressed profound dismay over the delay in the legal process in India.

"With profound dismay and concern we say that after more than three months after the conclusion of the hearing, the Supreme Court has not yet ruled on appeals from Italy," said the Italian foreign ministry in a statement.

Italy wants some legal progress before the holiday season (Christmas). Italy said if justice was delayed there would be negative consequences in combating piracy on high seas.

Italy demanded an urgent solution to the problem.

In May end, the two marines were granted bail by the Kerala High Court.

Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone were granted bail but they would not be allowed to leave Kochi, the court said.

They were also asked to deposit Rs 1 crore as personal bond.

Marines want to go home for Xmas

Meanwhile, the two Italian marines filed a petition in the High Court seeking relaxation of bail conditions to enable them visit their homes in Italy for Christmas.

The marines said their families have arranged special mass and prayers and they want to participate in the religious ceremony of Christmas in the last two weeks of this month.

They also undertook to return to India within two weeks from the day of departure. The two also filed separate sworn affidavits in this regard.

The two were arrested from merchant vessel Enrica Lexie on Feb 19 for the killing of two fishermen-- Jelastine (45) and Ajesh Binki (25) mistaking them for pirates and the incident had led to a diplomatic row between the two nations.

According to the petitioners, Italy has taken full responsibility to ensure they will comply with the High Court order in letter and spirit.

They also produced an undertaking sworn by Consul General of Italy in India, stating that the two would be kept under 'round-the-clock' custody under the control and supervision of Republic of Italy, which would take full responsibility of their return.

The marines also sought to facilitate international passage from Kochi and sought release of their passports.

The High Court had granted them bail on May 30 with stringent conditions, including that they surrender their passports and directed government to ensure 'abundant caution' and inform the sea port or other authorities to prevent them from leaving the country.