The Italian marines summoned by India’s National Investigating Agency (NIA) to appear as witnesses in the Kerala fishermen’s murder case have, while refusing to come to India, offered to depose via video conferencing. However, sources said, the NIA team that is investigating this high-profile case has refused to accept any of their proposals and insisted that all the four witnesses cooperate in the investigations and honour an agreement reached on the matter between India and Italy. These four marines were onboard Italian vessel ‘Enrica Lexie’ and present at the spot when their colleagues Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone had allegedly shot dead two fishermen off the Kerala coast on February 15, 2012.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has sought the opinion of the Law Ministry on the future course of action following the reluctance on part of the marines to cooperate in the investigations. The MHA is worried that this development would further delay the trial against the two Italian marines, who have been at the Italian Embassy since their return from Italy, but not before a diplomatic row erupted between the two nations.
A special court was set up in March this year to try the case, while the NIA filed a fresh FIR in the special court in early April and booked the marines. However, the NIA is yet to file a fresh chargesheet though it was handed over all investigation reports and other evidences.