India has sought the immediate appearance of four Italian marines before the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for questioning in the Kerala fishermen killing case, saying their reluctance to come is only delaying the trial and jeopardising the future of two of their colleagues lodged here.
The four marines were onboard ‘Enrica Lexie’ when their colleagues, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen on February 15, 2012.
They said they were ready for appearance through video conferencing, face a NIA team if it visits Italy or even reply to investigators if they send them written questions.
However, none of the proposals was acceptable to the NIA as Italy was bound to cooperate with India according to an agreement between Rome and New Delhi.
The Home Ministry and the NIA are evaluating various options but the overriding view is that the four marines as witnesses must come back to testify in the trial.
The refusal of the Italian witnesses to come to India is bound to delay the trial of the two Italian marines, who have been at the Italian Embassy here since their arrival following a diplomatic dust-up.
Italy had initially gone back on its promise to return the two marines so that they can stand trial in India, but later relented.
The two have been slapped with murder charges for gunning down fishermen Ajesh Binki and Jelestine.