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Court tells Italian ship owner to deposit Rs.2.5 million

Kochi(IANS): The Kerala High Court Wednesday asked the owners of the Italian vessel, anchored near the Kochi coast after a shooting row, to furnish a bank guarantee of Rs.2.5 million (over $50,000) and said it could leave the Indian waters if investigating agencies agreed to it.

Two Indian fishermen, Ajesh Binki, 25, and Gelastine, 45, were allegedly mistaken as pirates and shot dead by the security crew of cargo vessel Enrica Lexie Feb 15, about 14 nautical miles off Alappuzha. Two Italian Marines have been arrested for the shooting.

Justice Harun-ul-Rashid was hearing a petition filed by the family of Gelastine for compensation amount.

The victim’s widow, Dora, and children filed the petition Tuesday, seeking a compensation of Rs.1 crore. The plea said the ship should not be allowed to leave the Indian waters till the relief was paid.

Reacting to the court decision, Dora said that they would file a plea seeking an enhancement of the low bank guarantee amount fixed by the court.

Counsel for the Italian vessel owner argued that the compensation of Rs.1 crore sought by the victim’s family was unheard of and too high.

Another petition was filed in the court on the behalf of two arrested Italian Marines Latorre Massimillano and Salvatore Girone, seeking the quashing of the murder charges filed against them in the trial court.

They said as per the international maritime laws, the incident occurred in international waters and the case could not be heard by an Indian court. The petition will come up for hearing Thursday.

In Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram, a group of Italian officials met Director General of Police Jacob Punnoose. They discussed facilities for the two accused during their remand period.

The two accused men were picked up from the vessel Sunday and arrested. A court near Kollam Monday sent them to 14 days in custody, with the police given the first three days to interrogate them.

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