Italians kept pushing deadline, butthe police stood firm

It all started at the Ernakulam Boat Jetty with a police team, led by City Police Commissioner M.R. Ajith Kumar, reaching there on Sunday morning.

The team went onboard the Italian tanker Enrica Lexie, as the deadline set by the police to facilitate investigation into the killing of two fishermen allegedly by the marines ended at 8 a.m.

The police had given a nine-point charter of requests to the Italian authorities, including disembarkation of suspects and handing over of relevant documents, personal details of passengers, details of the weapons used on the ship, passports and log details.

Top police officials said the Italian team had maintained all through the interaction that a joint team could probe the incident that happened in international waters, as they claimed. But the police stuck to their stand that the “law of the land would prevail,” and this was communicated to the Italian side through the Union and State governments.

But the day progressed as no news emerged from the ship, berthed at the Cochin Oil Terminal (COT), even as the media and the public waited anxiously for information.

The process was delayed as the Italian team kept pushing the deadline, saying it needed to contact higher officials back home. By afternoon, K. Padmakumar, Inspector-General of Police, Ernakulam Range, also went onboard, and a final deadline was given to the Italians by 3 p.m.

The two marines, along with the captain, were brought ashore by 4.30 p.m. The interrogation of the marines was under way till late at night. Sources said the investigation team, led by Sam Christie Daniel, Commissioner of Police, Kollam, narrowed down on the marines, Latorre Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone, going by the description given by the survivors of the attack.

Ballistic and forensic experts went onboard the tanker on Sunday, along with officials of the Mercantile Marine Department, to collect the details supporting the case.

However, the investigating team was yet to secure the weapons used by the marines or ascertain details of the armoury. These details are to be matched with the bullets found on the deck of the fishing boat, St. Antony, and two recovered from the dead fishermen, police sources said.

Besides the Indian Penal Code, the suspects could be tried under the Maritime Zone Act and the Admiralty Act, the sources pointed out.