Bye-bye, India: Italian 'killer ship' sails away
The Italian ship's owner secured the court order for the release of the ship after executing a bond for Rs 3 crore and complying with all other legal formalities.
Kochi: The Italian oil tanker Enrica Lexie, which had been detained off the Kerala coast in February after two Marines on board shot dead two Indian fishermen, sailed off late on Saturday from Kochi for Colombo after completing all legal formalities, including the execution of a bond for Rs 3 crore.
The ship set sail from the Cochin Port's outer harbour at 11 pm on Saturday, coastal police sources said.
Port authorities permitted the vessel to leave the outer harbour, where it had been berthed for about 80 days, after they received a fax message from the Kerala High Court Registrar-General permitting the ship to leave Kerala waters and after completion of all other formalities, port sources said.
Earlier, the Registrar-General of the High Court had permitted the release of the vessel after the ship's owner executed a bond for Rs 3 crore and submitted a demand draft for an equal amount.
Pio Shiano, Managing Director of Dolphin Tankers Ltd, the ship's owner, executed the bond and presented the DD to High Court Registrar-General B Kamal Pasha on Satuday afternoon and secured the release order of the vessel.
Two marines from the vessel Lattore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone, who had allegedly shot dead the two Kerala fishermen Valentine alias Jelestine and Ajesh Binki suspecting them to be pirates, were arrested and have been charged with murder. They are lodged in Thiruvananthapuram Central Jail.
On a petition by Italy and the ship's owner, the Supreme court had on 2 May allowed the release of the vessel after directing them to execute a bond for Rs 3 crore and offering an undertaking that six other marines on the vessel would be brought before Indian courts when required.
Italy maintained that the Kerala government has no locus standi to register any criminal case as the alleged offence ought to be treated under international law and covenants as India is a signatory to the UN Charter.
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Unless the Indian government responds with vigour, even risking a diplomatic standoff with Italy, the suspicion that this is part of a "political deal" to sabotage two trials - of the Italian marines in India and of the AgustaWestland deal in Italy - will be validated.
We should not allow Cardinal Alencherry's revised statement, which replaces a more narrow-minded one, go unchallenged.
The ship authorities agreed to hand over the marine duo after a team of Kerala police led by Ajith Kumar turned on the heat on the vessel's Captain and the crew by asking them to hand over the duo by 8am tomorrow or face police action.