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Italian vessel involved in killing fishermen, searched

New Delhi , Sun, 26 Feb 2012 ANI

Kochi, Feb 26 (ANI): Police team investigating the deaths of two fishermen, who were allegedly killed by Italian sailors, concluded its first round of search and seizure operation of the vessel here on Sunday.


In order to examine the weapons allegedly used by its security guards to kill the fishermen, two separate teams of Indian and Italian officials arrived to inspect the Italian ship Enrica Lexie.


The Special Investigation team, which is probing the case in coordination with coastguards, officials from the Customs department and Indian Navy seized the guns, from which it was suspected the shots were fired at fishermen and several other documents pertaining to the case.


"Today we have carried out a search and seizure of items in the ship. The search was for the entire ship. The police team was assisted by the forensic scientist of the police department and also by the other departments like coastguard, the Indian Navy and customs," said Kochi Police Commissioner M R Ajith Kumar.


"From the Italian government's side, the Italian consulate general, their defence attache and also two ballistic experts have flown from the Italy today also participated in the search and seizure examination," he added.


A lower court in Kerala had earlier granted permission to include experts in the search, seizure and examination of ballistics obtained from the crime scene, after a petition was filed by Italian Consul General Giampaolo Cutillo.


Kumar told reporters that after presenting all evidences before the Kollam Court, items would be sent to Forensic Laboratory at Trivandrum for further investigation and till that time the vessel would not be allowed to sail.


"See, there are two problems, one is admiralty petition has been filed so that process will continue. Second the investigation is not yet over so only after carrying out second seizure investigation we will be able to tell whether ship can be allowed to leave or not," he said.


Two fishermen were killed February 15 night when a navy security team onboard the Italian vessel opened fire on a boat it mistook for pirates in Indian territorial waters. murder case had been registered against the crew, according to a senior official at Neendakara Coastal police station, where the surviving fishermen sought help.


Indian authorities on Sunday arrested the two marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, in Kochi for the alleged shooting of two local fishermen.


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. (ANI)


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