Press Trust of India
New Delhi, 12 November
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has questioned four Italian marines, who were witness to the killing of two fishermen off Kerala coast in 2012, through video conferencing as they appeared in the Indian Embassy in Rome.
The National Investigation Agency investigators had yesterday questioned through video conferencing the four witnesses, who were present on board Italian vessel ‘Enrica Lexie’ when their colleagues Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone shot dead two fishermen off Kerala coast on 15 February, 2012.
The four marines had arrived in the Indian Embassy in Rome following serving of Letters Rogatory and their statements were recorded by the investigators in the presence of a magistrate in Delhi, a Home Ministry official said.
The questioning of the witnesses through video links was necessitated after their refusal to come to India for deposition and the Home Ministry’s reluctance to send any team to Rome to quiz them.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said government was happy that the main hurdle in the case was over and the NIA can now bring all the facts before the court.
Mr Khurshid said India was desirous that the case concludes as expeditiously as possible within the legal framework of the country.
Notwithstanding India’s consistent request to send the witnesses, Italy had made it clear that the four will not go to India to appear before investigators in connection with the case in which two Italian marines are accused.
After Italy’s refusal, the Home Ministry had sought the opinion of the Attorney-General to suggest the way forward. With the top law officer advising the government against sending an NIA team to Italy, the Ministry was left with the only option of questioning the four witnesses through video conferencing.