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Italian deputy Foreign Minister expresses grief over the death of Indian fishermen

Thiruvananthapuram , Thu, 23 Feb 2012 ANI

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 23 (ANI): Italian deputy Foreign Minister Staffan de Mistura on Thursday expressed grief over the death of two Indian fishermen who were allegedly gunned down by two members of the Italian ship.


Mistura, who arrived at Thiruvananthapuram to meet the detained Italian sailors told the reporters that there was an urgent need to resolve the diplomatic and legal row over the alleged shooting and expressed his condolences to the families of the deceased fishermen.


"We are definitely and I have expressed it that I am very sad for the families. We have expressed the regrets that loss of life has caused. These were fishermen and not terrorists. These were Indian fishermen, poor fishermen who died, two of them in a terrible incident. So I am definitely convinced that they deserve attention and support," said Mistura.


A court in Kerala's Kollam District had remanded the accused on Monday to 14 days of judicial custody.


The talks between India and Italy came in the wake of differences that had emerged on the admissibility of trying the accused under the Indian law.


"Key factor is the issue about jurisdiction and we still maintain our position that this terrible incident took place outside international waters. At the same time the key will be the ballistic examination which we hope will be done in a way that also on the Italian side we will have access to it to ensure that whatever would come out of it will be well understood," added Mistura.


Italy's Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi is also due to arrive in India next week.


The accused were part of a security detachment assigned to protect the Italian merchant vessel Enrica Lexie from piracy. Italy says the marines only fired into the water but Indian authorities say two men on the fishing boat were shot dead.


A murder case was registered against the crew according to a senior official at Neendakara Coastal police station, where the surviving fishermen had sought help.


This was followed by the arrest of the two accused marines on February 19, who were then brought to land for further proceedings.


India had said that the two seamen, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, killed the two Indian fishermen as they mistook them for pirates off the coast of the southern state of Kerala, and wants to try them under Indian law.


Italy said the accused were shooting into the water and should be tried under Italian law as they were sailing in international waters at the time when this unfortunate incident occurred.


Italy began assigning military teams to protect its merchant vessels in the Indian Ocean last year after a series of attacks by Somali pirates on Italian ships.


Pirates operating in small fishing vessels and fast motorboats have hijacked dozens of vessels in the region over recent years, extracting millions of dollars in ransom. (ANI)


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