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Feb 17, 2012 at 10:14am IST

Italian guards to be arrested over Indian fishermen deaths

Thiruvananthapuram: The armed guards on the Italian merchant navy ship are facing murder charges and will be arrested after they allegedly killed two Indian fishermen on Wednesday. The ship docked at Kochi port will be allowed to leave soon, while the crew members will be granted Consular visits.

The Kochi police has registered a case against the crew members of the Italian ship who killed two Indian fishermen on Wednesday. Murder charges have been slapped against the crew members after taking bullet injuries as evidence.

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Reports say that the Italian naval personnel who shot at the fishermen tried to carry on with the journey, without informing maritime authorities about the shooting.

The Italian government insists that the fishermen were shot at after being warned and were mistaken for pirates.

Earlier, the captain of the ship had refused to come in to the port off Kochi coast for questioning into the shooting incident that left two Indian fishermen dead.

Meanwhile, Coast Guard IG SPS Basra said, "It looks like an error of judgment. The ship was in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone. My job was to get the ship involved in killing the fishermen to dock. Our waters are not pirate-infested. The police is investigating the case."

He added that there was no provocation from the fishermen's side.

"The police are investigating the matter. The firing on fishermen was not correct," he said. "The vessel told us about it being involved in the killing of fishermen very late. The police are investigating the matter."

Kerala Police sources said, "Some more procedures are to be completed. Only after that we will approach the ship either to quiz the crew or bring them to port."

Two fishermen were shot dead by Italian navy personnel who were part of the merchant vessel crew.

According to MEA sources, a total of 11 fishermen were on the boat, of them nine were sleeping. The two, who were awake at the time, were fired upon without warning.

However, the Italian government has claimed that the ship had come under attack from pirates and the navy personnel fired only warning shots.

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