Italian Marines – Kerala protests move by centre to base trial in Delhi

The central government has rejected the request by the government of Kerala to set up the special court to try the Italian marines in Kerala, instead of in Delhi, to help the witnesses depose before the court easily.

According to sources, the government has decided to set up special court to try the Italian Marines in the Patiala House Courts in Delhi.

The move will help the Italian Marines stay in the Italian embassy and attend the hearings, while it will make it almost impossible for the chief witnesses, mostly poor fishermen from Kerala, to attend the proceedings.

“We never expected justice from the central government,” Charles George of Kerala Fishermen’s Association said.

The government has has justified its decision to set up the court in Delhi by arguing that Kerala government has no jurisdiction in the matter.

However, the opposition has questioned the argument.

“It is disingenuous of the central government to quote the Supreme Court observation to justify this move,” NK Premachandran of the Left Front in Kerala said.

“The Supreme Court has only said that a special court should be set up.. it can be set up anywhere in India,” he said. Premachandran also pointed out that the case documents and the FIR are all in Malayalam.

The case has only one eye-witness, Freddy – the owner of the ‘St Antony’s’ – the boat which was shot at by the Italians. However, George of the Fishermen’s Association said Freddy has already entered into a broad agreement with the Italian government.

He also called the current case “very weak”.

“The way this case is framed, it is based on very weak evidence and statements by the witnesses… If the case is going to be tried in Delhi, for us, that is the end of the case,” he said.

The witnesses can challenge the decision by the Central Government in the next hearing of the Supreme Court, arguing that it will be difficult for the members of the fishermen’s families and other witnesses to attend hearings in Delhi.