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Two Italian Marines arrested

Staff Reporter
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Captain of tanker, involved in firing, will be investigated for civil liabilities

MURDER CHARGE:Marines of the Italian cargo ship Enrica Lexie, Latore Massimiliano (left) and Salvatore Girone (centre background), are being brought to shore after being detained by police in Kochi on Sunday. Consul-General of Italy in Mumbai, Giampaolo Cutillo, is in the foreground (centre).— PHOTO: AP
MURDER CHARGE:Marines of the Italian cargo ship Enrica Lexie, Latore Massimiliano (left) and Salvatore Girone (centre background), are being brought to shore after being detained by police in Kochi on Sunday. Consul-General of Italy in Mumbai, Giampaolo Cutillo, is in the foreground (centre).— PHOTO: AP

After hectic negotiations, the Kerala police on Sunday arrested two Marines suspected to have fired the shots from an Italian oil tanker that killed two Indian fishermen off Kerala on February 15.

The police boarded the ship to bring the two persons and also captain of the tanker Enrica Lexie Umberto Vitelli for questioning.

Though Captain Vitelli has not been held culpable of murder at present, his role is being probed. He is absolved from the operational matters involving the Marines deputed for security of the vessel as per an agreement between the company that owns the ship and the Italian government.

However, his civil liabilities as captain — whether he strictly followed the procedures after a suspected pirate attack on the vessel — would be investigated, police sources said.

“The police brought in two persons [Marines Latorre Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone] suspected to have been involved in the incident to land on Sunday for further examination and investigation,” City Police Commissioner M.R. Ajith Kumar said.

The police had set a deadline of 8 a.m. Sunday for the Italian officials to facilitate the disembarkation of the suspects from the tanker. In the morning, a police team, led by Mr. Ajith Kumar, boarded the tanker, berthed at the Cochin Oil Terminal since Friday, to initiate the proceedings.

K. Padmakumar, Inspector-General of Police, Ernakulam Range, joined the team by afternoon. The suspects were first moved to the Central Industrial Security Force guesthouse on Willingdon Island. They were arrested late in the evening on a murder charge under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.

The suspects are expected to be transferred to Neendakara in Kollam as the case has been registered by the Neendakara coastal police.

The sources said the vessel would have to stay put in Kochi for at least one more week for the investigation and legal procedures to be completed.

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