The Kerala Police team investigating the shooting of two Indian fishermen by marine guards aboard the Italian vessel Enrica Lexie Saturday searched 25 percent of the ship, especially the area where arms were stored, but gave no details of any seizures.
Answering a volley of questions from reporters after the search operation concluded, team leader and Kochi Police Commissioner M.R. Ajith Kumar was non-committal on what was seized in the search operations.
"Whatever we need has been seized and we have searched 25 percent of the ship. The first search operations that was done was in the area where the arms has been kept," he said.
Two separate teams of Indian and Italian experts Saturday reached the Italian ship to examine the weapons allegedly used by its security guards to shoot dead two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast. Travelling on boats, the teams reached the vessel anchored in the outer sea.
The first team comprised Kerala Police officials, forensic and ballistic experts and the second team consisted of Italian officials, including two army majors from Italy who reached here early Saturday.
The two Italian defence officers are ballistic experts and have a good knowledge of weapons.
However, Ajith Kumar had clearly indicated that this was no joint inspection though the Italian expert presence would be there.
A court in Kollam Thursday had extended the police custody of Italian Marines Latorre Massimillano and Salvatore Girone, detailed on the ship as its security guards, after police told the judge they needed more time to interrogate them. The next hearing will be Feb 28.
Italy has maintained that the firing incident took place in international waters and should be tried according to international law. New Delhi has said since the incident involved an attack on an Indian vessel, the accused should be tried under the Indian Penal Code.
The incident occurred Feb 15 when the Italian security officials allegedly mistook the Indian fishermen for pirates and shot them dead in their own boat.