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Feb 17, 2012 at 10:17am IST

Indians killed: Italian ship crew members detained

Kochi: Kerala Police on Friday detained several members of the Enrica Lexie crew, who were accused of shooting dead two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kochi. "Vital information is yet to be collected from the ship. Six security guards on the ship are considered to be from the Italian Navy as per the information they have. These crew members will be arrested and produced in the court only after all procedures are completed," said police sources.

Meanwhile, Coast Guard IG SPS Batra revealed on Friday that there was no provocation from the fishermen's side.

"There was no provocation from the fishermen's side. The police are investigating the matter. The firing on fishermen was not correct. Our waters are not piracy infested. The vessel told us about it being involved in the killing of fishermen very late. The police are investigating the matter," he said.

Indians killed: Italian ship crew detained

The crew members will be arrested and produced in the court only after all procedures are completed, police sources said.

However, he did seem to admit that the firing could have been an error of judgement. "There was an error of judgement on the part of the ship. My work as the Coast Guard was to find the ship and bring it in which we did. Now the law will take its course."

Enrica Lexie was brought to Kochi early on Friday. It is berthed at Kochi oil terminal, where security has been tightened.

The preliminary assessment of the marine authorities was that armed guards aboard the ship might have fired at the fishing boat on Wednesday mistaking it for a vessel of pirates.

The coastal police registered a murder case against the crew of the vessel based on the evidence of bullet injuries found on the bodies of the dead fishermen - Valentine alias Jelestine (45) and Ajesh Binki (25) - during post-mortem.

Fellow fishermen who were in the same boat as Binki and Jalastine, said the boat had 11 fishermen. They had put out to sea from Neendakara in Kollam district.

The Kerala government had announced a solatium of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of the deceased fishermen. It was also decided to bear all legal expenses for getting due compensation from the owners of the ship.

The Kollam administration also announced an emergency relief payment of Rs 10,000 each to the kin of those killed.

Meanwhile, fishermen's organisations have threatened to lay siege the ship at Kochi harbour demanding penal action against the ship crew.

With additional information from PTI

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