A court here Saturday rejected the bail application of two Italian marines accused of shooting dead two Indian fishermen, expressing doubts whether their presence could be ensured if they were granted bail.
Denying the bail, Kollam District Sessions Court judge P.D. Rajan expressed doubts over the assurance given by the Italian government that it would ensure the presence of the marines -- who were on board the cargo vessel M.V. Enrica Lexie at the time of the incident -- if and when they are summoned by an Indian court.
The court order comes a day after a special investigation team of the Kerala Police filed a 196-page chargesheet against the two Italians.
Italian marines Latorre Massimillano and Salvatore Girone, posted aboard cargo vessel M.V. Enrica Lexie, were arrested Feb 20 for shooting dead Indian fishermen, Ajesh Binki, 25, and Gelastine, 45, after allegedly mistaking them for pirates. The incident occurred Feb 15, about 14 nautical miles off Alappuzha in Kerala.
The Supreme Court had May 2 allowed release of the vessel from a Kerala port following the Italian government's assurance. "We accept the assurance given by the Republic of Italy that the presence of four marines if required by any court or investigating officer or any lawful authority would be ensured," said the apex court bench of Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice H.L. Gokhale.
During Saturday's proceedings, counsel for the marines told the court here that since the chargesheet had already been filed, they should be given bail. They are prepared to abide by whatever conditions are put up for granting of bail, they said.
But the court asked for the speedy trial of the case, as the chargesheet has been filed.
Special public prosecutor Mohan Raj told reporters that the court agreed to their arguments and dismissed the bail plea.
Currently the two marines are lodged in the Thiruvananthapuram Central Prison and their judicial custody ends on May 25.
Early this month, Italian authorities reached an out-of-court settlement by paying Rs.10 million each to the families of the deceased fishermen and Rs.1.7 million to the boat owner J. Freddy for damaging his vessel. On May 5, the Italian vessel was allowed to sail out from Kochi.