Sonia interferes to release Italian marines
T Satisan, Kochi
LOTRE Massimilliano and Salvatore Girone, two marines accused of shooting two Indian fishermen dead last year, have flown to their fatherland for celebrating Christmas, thanks to the camouflaged sympathy they enjoy in India ! They have executed a bond of Rs 6 crore. Both are charge sheeted for shooting two Indian fishermen dead in February, 2012. Ajesh Binki and Valentine Gelastine, from Kerala and Tamil Nadu respectively, were working on board the fishing trawler “St. Antony” when the defendants shot them dead from on board tanker vessel tv “Enrica Lexie”. It led to hair-splitting arguments about the marine rules, international waters, territorial waters, etc. for a few months together. Indian Coast Guard and Government of Indian maintained that the boat was very much within Indian Contiguous Zone around 20.5 nautical miles off the Kerala coast. But, the master of the Italian vessel Capt. Umberto Vitelli stated that the shooting was self defence against armed pirates. During the legal arguments High Court of Kerala had maintained that Marines had not informed master of the vessel before they shot. Master had not recorded the same either.
Immediately after the controversial murder occurred, numerous straws were in the wind indicating inordinate assistances and sympathies pouring from “several quarters” for “saving” the culprits from Indian courts, jails and jurisdiction. Italian ministers and priests tried their level best to influence the dependents of the families by sopping them. According to Vatican-based Catholic news agency Agenzia Fides, Cardinal George Alencherry from Kerala had called for peaceful solution to the matter. He had requested to the Government of Kerala not precipitate the matter. He added that he would keep in touch with the Catholic ministers in Kerala for pacifying the situation. Alencherry was in Vatican in connection with his consecration ceremony as Cardinal. Later on Cardinal denied the news agency report as a twisted one. But, Italian agencies, both government and representatives of the church kept on trying for out of court settlement. Their ministers and high priests of Church came to Kerala and tried to persuade the dependents of Indian fishermen to accept the sops and pave the way for the release of the Italian marines who were behind bars.
The same time though the Italians were technically in the jail with pending murder case, it was alleged that they were given special accommodation and food different from ordinary jails.
It was reported that recently the Italian Defence Minister had assured the marines that they would be able to go home for celebrating Christmas. Now the dreams of the Italians have come true. The High Court of Kerala, in its ruling of 27th December 2002, permitted the marines to fly home for celebrating Christmas with their families provided they come back by 3 PM on the 10th January, 2013 and Government of India does not object.
But, even though the Government of Kerala raised their objection saying that there was no guarantee of the defendants’ return to India, Government of India did not come out with even an iota of opposition. Reports suggest that Central Government Counsel said, court can decide on what needs to be done. This exposes the mind set of the union government. It was a blatant way of lenient approach to the Italians. Media and political observes hold that Italians will not come back to Kerala for facing the trial, etc. But, political observers, journalists, social workers and people in general do not believe that the marines will come back.