Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Monday said that the Government would decide on the issue of giving preferential treatment to the two Italian marines, who are now in prison on charges of killing two fishermen, on the basis of the report of the Additional Director General of Police (Prisons). However, the Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan de Mistura, who had met him on Monday morning prior to going back home, did not broach this topic, he said.
Replying to questions at a press conference, Mr. Chandy explained that the court, in response to a petition filed by the marines, had expressed the view that there was no bar on lodging them outside jail provided the Director General of Police and Additional Director General of Police agreed to the proposal. He said the ADGP (Prisons) had informed him that he had sent the report, but he was yet to receive it.
Mr. Chandy said a decision would be taken after considering the International laws, regulations and the procedures of the Geneva Convention and the fact that the two were foreign prisoners. Stating that the Italian minister had met him once earlier, Mr. Chandy asserted that the courts had upheld Kerala stand on prosecution of the accused in Indian soil. The Italian marines’ contention that the incident occurred in International waters was dismissed by courts. India had also rejected the proposal for a joint inquiry into the incident.
He said that during his meeting with the Italian Minister, he had shared his anxiety over the attacks against Indians and Indian establishments in Italy and the negative reports in Italian media on the issue. The Italian Minister said that only 100-odd people were in involved in such protests and this should not be considered as the opinion of the Italian people.
Mr. Chandy said he had written to the Coastguard and Naval authorities expressing the State Government’s gratitude in extending all help in the two cases involving the Italian ship, Enrica Lexie, and Prabu Daya, in terms of arresting the accused and recovering the bodies of fishermen. He also praised Defence Minister A K Antony for the support he extended to the State Government. The bodies of two fishermen who were killed in the mid sea hit-and-run mishap were recovered after 10 days of intensive search. It was unfortunate that the LDF did not show the grace to accept the steps taken by the State Government, which had done all that was possible and duly required by it. When the LDF was in power, three such accidents took place in Kerala waters. But no action was taken on these, he said.
The State Government will oppose the anticipatory bail filed in Chennai High Court by the captain of Prabu Daya and would seek the custody of the ship. The Director General of Prosecutions Asaf Ali and ADGP Padmakumar, who had been deputed to go to Chennai, will take the necessary action, he said.