Plea for re-examining weapons in the presence of Italian experts

The judicial custody of Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, arrested by the Kerala police on February19, was extended by another 14 days (till April 2) on Monday by the Kollam Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) A.K. Gopakumar.

The marines were arrested from the Italian ship Enrica Lexie on charges of opening fire and killing two Indian fishermen at sea on February 15. Soon after their arrest the marines were sent to police custody for 14 days and lodged at the CISF Guest House at Kochi and also at the Police Club here.

After the police custody period expired their judicial custody was extended by 14 days and they were sent to the Central Prison at Thiruvananthapuram.

On expiry of that period on Monday (March 19), they were produced before the CJM court here and their judicial custody was further extended.

Following the extension of their judicial custody period they were taken back to the Central Prison immediately.

Soon after the court ordered the extension, defence lawyer Sunil Maheshwaran Pillai moved a plea before the court praying for a direction from the court to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), Thiruvananthapuram, to re-examine the material objects (arms and ammunition) seized from the court in the presence of the Italian ballistic experts.

Lab director's statement

The Chief Judicial Magistrate Court had earlier given a direction to the FSL Director that the Italian experts be permitted to observe the examination of the material objects, following a request from the government of Italy. But the court was told that the FSL Director had not allowed the Italian experts to observe some crucial examination processes, and that only the results were shown.

Following this development, the experts left for Italy. The FSL Director then informed the court that the Italian experts had voluntarily withdrawn.

The plea submitted on Monday contended that it was not true. Deputy Director of Prosecution K.O. Raju, who is the prosecutor for the case, strongly opposed the plea. The court said that the order on the plea would be pronounced on Wednesday.

TV in cell sought

Mr. Pillai also moved a plea praying that a television set be installed in the cell of the Central Prison where the two marines were lodged. This was made on the grounds that the marines are unable to communicate with anyone in the prison since they do not know the language. If TV is installed in the cell the Italian Consulate will ensure that it receives Italian channels. Order on this plea too will be pronounced on Wednesday.