Court asks government to file statement

The Kerala High Court on Monday directed the State government to file a statement in response to a writ petition filed by the agent of Italian merchant vessel Enrica Lexie seeking permission to leave the territorial waters of the country and complete its voyage.

When the petition came up before Justice Harun-Ul-Rasheed, the government submitted that the investigation was not complete and sought to file a statement detailing the progress of the probe.

Counsel for the petitioner told the court that the ship owner was suffering heavy losses as the authorities had refused permission to sail out. He said the ship had various business commitments to carry out.

The petitioner pointed out that the police had completed the investigation. The Italians had cooperated with the investigation in connection with the killing of the two fishermen and the investigation agency had searched the vessel and seized arms and ammunition of the naval personnel. The ship was now at the outer anchorage under the Cochin Port Trust. It had six Italian naval personnel who had been deployed by the Italian government.

The petitioner said the ship had not in fact been detained by any authorities. The bank guarantee of Rs.3 crore ordered by the High Court in two compensation suits had been furnished and the High Court Registrar General had issued orders releasing the ship from the custody of the court.

The petitioner said despite these, the authorities were wilfully delaying clearance for the ship to sail out of the Indian waters.

The court adjourned the hearing on the petition to March 15.

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