Italy is demanding the right to try two members of a vessel protection detachment accused of shooting dead two Indian fishermen last week, apparently because they feared that the victims were pirates.
Massimiliano Latore and Salvatore Girone, both Italian marines, were yesterday remanded in custody until March 5 by a magistrate in Kollam. They have been charged with murder under section 302 of the Indian penal code.
The accused were part of a security detachment on board the Dolphin Tanker-operated vessel Enrica Lexie at the time of the incident last Wednesday.
Accounts of exactly what happened differ sharply, and are causing diplomatic tensions between India and Italy.
The Italian foreign ministry said in a statement that the incident occurred on an Italy-flagged ship in international waters, and that therefore Italy had jurisdiction. Moreover, as members of the armed forces, the men had immunity from prosecution by other states.
Italy’s foreign minister Giulio Terzi told reporters: “So far, I do not believe there has been the kind of collaboration between the states of India and Italy which could be hoped for and which could open a way out quickly.
“Contacts and collaboration between the two governments are essential to establish the facts in the face of unilateral actions being undertaken by police authorities.”
Meanwhile, BCB International called on the major conference on Somalia that meets in London this week to rethink policies on the use of armed guards.
The security equipment manufacturer’s marine projects manager Jonathan Delf said: “We have been warning for some time about the dangers linked with the used of armed guards on commercial vessels.
“The vast majority of armed guards protecting commercial vessels are extremely well trained and highly professional, but there can be no room for human error when lethal force is used.
“Armed teams on board civilian commercial vessels need to be provided with the right equipment to enable them to do the very difficult task they face.”