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Italian ship firing: Vasan terms killing of Indian fishermen 'unacceptable'

Chennai, Sat, 18 Feb 2012 ANI

Chennai, Feb 18 (ANI): Shipping Minister G. K. Vasan on Saturday said the killing of two Indian fishermen by gunshots from an Italian ship was 'unacceptable', and added that perpetrators would be brought to book as soon as possible.


Condemning the action of the crew members of the Italian ship, Vasan said: "Italian armed guards did firing presuming they are Somalian pirates which is not at all acceptable. Kerala Police has already filed a criminal case against the crewmembers. Coast Guard has intercepted the ship and brought it back to the port."


"From the Shipping Ministry's side, the DG Shipping has already ordered inquiry through principal officer, merchant marine department, Cochin," he added.


Vasan further said the excuse of the Italian crew that they opened fire fearing the fishermen to be pirates does not claim merit and stringent action would be taken against them.


"I would like to say that it is internationally well known fact that whenever there is pirates attack on the ship for self protection, a certain protocol prescribed in IMO code should be followed. And I am sure that this protocol has not been followed. Whatever has happened, has happened against the law," said Vasan.


"The inquiry will definitely reveal the facts and I am of the considered view that appropriate punishment should be given," he added.


Defence Minister A.K. Antony had earlier said the killing of two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala, was "against the laws and norms" and the guilty will be punished.


The two fishermen, native of Alappuzha, were killed on Wednesday night when armed guards on-board the Italian merchant vessel Enrica Lexie opened fire on their fishing boat.


The preliminary assessment of the marine authorities is that the armed guards aboard the ship might have fired at the fishing boat mistaking it for a vessel belonging to pirates. (ANI)


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