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Feb 21, 2012 at 10:47pm IST

Italy pulling all stops to secure release of guards

Kochi: Italy is pulling out all stops to secure the release of their two naval personnel involved in the firing incident off the Kochi coast that snuffed out the lives of two Indian fishermen. Its Foreign Minister, Giulio Terzi, after issuing a tough statement, has sent his deputy to negotiate the release of the two. Staffan De Mistura will be in Delhi on Wednesday.

"The Italian government is working at every level with the Indian government. It's a dialogue between myself and the Foreign Minister, it's a dialogue with the other ministers at both Federal and State level," said Terzi. "According to interpretation of the law, they were under Italian jurisdiction. For the moment, this position is not being accepted by the Indian authorities, but we will pursue all possible initiatives to resolve this problem," he added.

Political intervention aside, Italian diplomats in India are tracking every move of the Kerala police. A crisis unit of its Foreign Ministry is monitoring all developments. Legal opinion from Foreign, Defence and Justice ministries is being sought. There's even a question mark on the next week's India visit by Terzi himself.

Meanwhile, the two accused guards have decided to seek legal relief from the Kerala High Court. The police, on the other hand, has been given the go ahead by the court to seize the guns from the ship.

Meanwhile, in another development, the wife of one of the fishermen victims moved the High Court, seeking Rs 1 crore as compensation.

It is a huge challenge for the Kerala Police to gather all evidences at the earliest and build a strong case against the accused. The police is likely to seek extension of their custody once the 3-day period gets over on February 23.

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