02/20/2012, 00.00
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The Italian tanker "was in Indian waters, not international." Justice for Catholic fishermen

Fr. Ignaci Rajasekaran, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Trivandrum (Kerala) confirms facts to AsiaNews by. The priest actually met the survivors and relatives of victims. The accident occurred at 16.30 (local time) and the Indian fishing vessel returned to port at 22.30: "Too little time. To reach international waters from the coast takes more than a day". 2 Marines arrested believed guilty.

Trivandrum (AsiaNews) - "When it opened fire, the Italian oil tanker was in Indian waters, not international. And the fishermen were resting, except the two victims: the helmsman Ajesh Binki, 25, and his shipmate Jalastein, 45. They were on watch", says Fr. Ignaci Rajasekaran, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Trivandrum, tells AsiaNews. This version does not coincide at all with that of the Italian navy. The 11indians on board the vessel are Catholics and Jelestein belonged to the Archdiocese of Trivandrum. Together with the Archbishop, Mgr. Soosa Pakiam M, Fr. Rajasekaran has accompanied the family to claim the bodies of the victims, and organize the funeral. This afternoon (Indian time) Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, the Marines found guilty of having opened fire, will appear before Kochin magistrate to answer the accusation of murder, under Art. 302 of Indian Penal Code. The Indian police yesterday arrested two soldiers. The Indian and Italian versions still do not match. The Italian Navy maintains that the tanker Enrica Lexie was in international waters at the time of the accident and that the two marines shot the fishermen mistaking them for pirates due to their "hostile" behaviour.

Fr. Rajasekaran, who met with the families of nine victims and survivors, said: "The fishermen were from the diocese of the Archdiocese of Trivandrum and Quilon. At 16.30 (local time), the men were resting, because they fish at night. At that moment, the Italian vessel was within the limits of territorial waters of India. Binki, the helmsman, was on lookout. He was hit in the face, below his left eye and died instantly. Jalastein got up and received a gunshot to the chest. Meanwhile, the other nine woke up and communicated with the closest boat. This has raised the alarm with the Coast Guard. "

The time and place where the accident actually occurred are the points on which the Italian and Indian authorities diverge. "When contacted - the priest told AsiaNews - Kochin the Coast Guard ordered the vessel back to port. On its return, the boat stopped three times because of technical problems. Eventually, the Indian vessel reached the coast at 22.30 (local time). Considering the time of the attack and the arrival in port, it is evident that the Italian tanker and the boat were in Indian territorial waters. This must be very clear, because no boat could reach the coast in less than a day if it is in international waters. "

Fr. Rajasekaran thought's go to the survivors and families of the victims. In particular that of Jelestein, a member of the Archdiocese of Trivandrum. "Jelestein - he explains - was married and had a child. Having no parents, he was taking care of two younger sisters, aged 13 and 17. They are all very young and he was the only one to provide for the family. Who will take care of them now, how will widow survive? ". Currently, the Government of Kerala has promised 500 thousand rupees (about 7,700 euros) to each of the families of two victims. However, the priest points to a security issue: "Often, our fishermen have to go far offshore, where they encounter foreign cargo or cruise ships that go beyond the limits of the high seas and destroy the fish, or cause damage to nets. This seriously compromises the life and survival of these workers and their families. "

The incident with the Enrica Lexie, however, represents an extraordinary case. "It is inhumane and unacceptable - he concludes - that a foreign vessel can shoot with this freedom within the territorial waters of another country. The Italian ship did not launch any warning before firing. The families of these poor men have the right to seek justice" . (GM)


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See also
Kerala High Court expects Enrica Lexie to be released soon
For India's central government, the Enrica Lexie was in international waters
Further delays in the Italian marines' case raise eyebrows among Indians as well
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