Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Monday asked the Centre to set up the special court at Kollam district to conduct the trial of the two Italian marines charged with the killing of two Indian fishermen. In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chandy demanded that the Sessions court at Kollam be designated as the special court.
He demanded that the trial be held at Kollam itself since the legal proceedings against the marines had been initiated by this court. "The same court may be considered as the special court suggested by the Union Government for holding their trial," he said.
The marines - Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone - were on board an Italian vessel 'Enrica Lexie' when they allegedly shot dead the two fishermen off the Kerala coast on February 15, 2012.
Substantiating his demand, the CM said all records and evidence were now with the court at Kollam. The witnesses in the case would find it difficult to travel frequently outside Kerala in the event of the special court being set up in New Delhi or elsewhere. It would also be required to translate the voluminous chargesheet in Malayalam related to the case, which would further delay the procedures of trial.
Chandy also lauded the Prime Minister, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Defence Minister AK Antony and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid for maintaining a principle-based and firm stand in bringing back the two marines to India. He said the latest turnaround of events culminating in the return of the marines had instilled hope among the people of Kerala that finally justice would be served.
Ending a raging 11-day diplomatic row between the two countries, the marines returned on Friday after India gave an assurance that they will not face death penalty nor will they be arrested.