KOCHI: The Italian diplomats who held talks with the police stood firm on their stand that Italian naval men cannot be charged with the case as the incident occurred in international waters. They also claimed diplomatic immunity as they represented the Italian Government.
“The Italian diplomats who arrived in Delhi and Kochi had stuck to the stand that they cannot be arrested as they work for the Italian Government. They claimed that they are part of the Italian Navy and they have diplomatic immunity,” an official in the External Affairs Ministry told ‘Express’. “The guards could even be sentenced to death penalty if charged with IPC 302. That is why they are claiming immunity, and sticking to the ‘international waters’ argument,” the official said.
According to police officials, the owners of the ship have been cooperating with the police but the diplomats wanted the marines to be freed with out any legal action. “The ship owners were ready to hand over the marines. But it was the representative of the Italian Government who stood their stand against legal action. But since we were backed by the External Affairs Ministry, the marines could be arrested easily,” a police official said. A senior official of the city police said that Italians wanted a joint investigation into the case. “The diplomats demanded us to have a joint probe containing officials from both the country. They were against our move to prosecute the marines as per the Indian legal system. They wanted international laws to be implemented in the case. But We had directions from the external affairs ministry that law of the land should be applied in the case,” the police official said. Ernakulam range IG K Padmakumar told Express that police had sought legal advice, and cleared that Indian law is applicable in the case.