4 Italian marines refuse to come to India for deposition

New Delhi: Four Italian marines, who were witness to the killing of fishermen off Kerala coast allegedly by two of their colleagues, have refused to come to India for deposing as witness, which will further delay the case.

The four marines, who were summoned by the National Investigation Agency, were onboard Italian vessel ‘Enrica Lexie’ and were present at the spot when their colleagues Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone allegedly shot dead two fishermen on February 15, 2012.

The four witnesses conveyed that they were not ready to come to India for deposition as witness following summons from the NIA, which is probing the case, official sources said.

The witnesses said that they were ready for appearance either through video conferencing, or a team of NIA should visit Italy for questioning them or the investigators can send them written questions which they would reply.

However, none of the proposals was acceptable to the NIA investigators as Italy was bound to cooperate with India as per an agreement between Rome and New Delhi.

Faced with the four witnesses’ refusal to come to India, the home ministry has sought opinion of the law ministry on the future course of action, the sources said.

The refusal of the Italian witnesses to come to India is bound to delay the trial against the two Italian marines, who have been at the Italian embassy here since their arrival following a diplomatic dust-up.

Italy had initially gone back on its promise to return the marines so that they can stand trial in India but later relented. The two have been slapped with murder charges for gunning down two fishermen Ajesh Binki and Jelestine.