On February 15, 2012, two Indian fishermen, Ajesh Binki, 25, and Gelastine, 45, were shot dead by Italian Naval Guards aboard the ship Enrica Lexie, named Latorre Massimillano and Salvatore Girone, off the southern Kerala coast.
The Italians claimed that they mistook the boat as those of pirates, while the owner of the fishing vessel said that the firing was unprovoked.
The Italian ship was detained and two sailors were detained under non-bailable arrest.
As the case has been going on, there has been tremendous pressure from the Italians to subvert and short circuit the judicial proceedings. In that attempt, they have used money and even the services of Roman Catholic Church.
So, not only has the Italian Government given a compensation of Rs one crore for each of the slain, but also involved two Catholic priests, Father Churchill and Father Wilfred – to have the affected families make statements which the Italians can use to subvert the case.
The involvement of the Church was brought out by an Italian magazine.
The first evidence of such an influence came out in the open when Agenzia Fides in Rome reported that Cardinal George Alencherry “has taken an interest in mediating and seeking a peaceful solution to the delicate situation.
Fides had said that the cardinal had confirmed that “he has contacted the Catholic ministers who are in the government of Kerala”, announcing his constant interest until the case is “clarified and resolved peacefully.”
With the use of Church and money, the Italians have introduced at least two things in the case, which will benefit them to weaken the Indian State’s case against the Italian Sailors:
1. The families of the fishermen have written a legal letter to the Italian Consul General to say that they do not want the Italian marines to be prosecuted.
2. The relatives have stated that the incident occurred at 33 nautical miles from the Kerala coast. The FIR against the Italian marines by the Kerala police says that the incident occurred at 20.5 nautical miles.
Italians have used every diplomatic way to close the case as soon as they can, and in their hurry have tried using money, Church and subversion to get their way.
In a country like India, where the cases regularly are subverted, this may not be a big deal. But one wonders, how long can outsiders with a bit of money and power can take the citizens on a ride.
The Union Carbide’s injustice and connivance of the high and mighty of India is still a sore. The politicians will not help. Ultimately, only the citizens of India have to stand up and say – Enough is Enough!