ITALIAN SHIP ROW
Two Italian marines granted conditional bail by Kerala HC
The marines were granted bail against a personal bond of Rs 1 crore each along being barred from leaving the Kochi city area
In a surprise move, the Kerala High Court granted conditional bail to the two Italian marines accused for killing two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala in February earlier this year. Justice NK Balakrishnan directed the marines to deposit Rs 1 crore each as personal bond and two Indians as sureties for their release from jail.
The single bench also listed three more conditions for bail—the marines should deposit their passports before the District Magistrate, Ernakulam and should appear before the city police commissioner of Kochi every day. The marines would also not be allowed to leave the jurisdiction of Kochi city area during the bail period.
The court also stated that the marines should not meet the witnesses or try to influence them and warned them of bail cancellation if they were to violate any condition. The two marines—Latore Massimilliano and Salvatore Girone on board Enrica Lexie were arrested on 19 February for killing two fishermen on Kollam coast. They were in judicial custody for almost 100 days and are now lodged at the Borstal School, Kochi, where juvenile offenders are housed.
Earlier, the Kerala HC had dismissed a petition by the Italian government seeking the quashing of FIR against the two marines. They have been charged with murder of fishermen Valentine alias Jalestine and Ajesh Binki. Police filed chargesheet in the case at Kollam Chief Judicial Magistrate court and invoked Article 3 of the Suppression of Unlawful Act of International Martime Navigation with the incident, which had led to a diplomatic row between India and Italy.
However, when the bail plea came under consideration at court on Wednesday, the state government made a U-turn and deleted Article 3 of the Suppression of Unlawful Act of International Martime Navigation act from the chargesheet.
The state attorney also didn’t object to the court granting conditional bail to the accused. The vessel, which was detained for more than two months off the Cochin port, was allowed to leave a few days ago on receiving a clearance from the Supreme Court.
The counsels for the Italian marines stated that the two would abide by the conditions set by the court and cooperate with the trial and course of law in the case.
Jeemon Jacob is Bureau Chief, South with Tehelka.