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Italian Marines Accused Of Killing 2 Tuna Fishermen India, March 14, 13

The 2012 Italian shooting in the Arabian sea is an incident under investigation that occurred within the Indian Contiguous Zone on the 15th of February 2012, off the coast of southern India, in which the use of live fire from automatic weapons by members of an Italian navy Vessel Protection Detachment (VPD) on board oil tanker MV Enrica Lexie was linked to the death of two Indian fishermen on board a fishing boat.

Ajesh Binki and Valentine aka Gelastine, natives of Tamil Nadu and Kerala respectively, were allegedly shot dead by Italian marines of the Reggimento San Marco, Marina Militare.

The incident sparked a major diplomatic row between Italy and India, with Indian police immediately opening a murder enquiry and later arresting two members of the Italian Navy security team over the shooting. The two Italian marines were released after 105 days in judicial custody under strict bail conditions and assurances from the Italian Government that they will remain available to answer charges before Indian courts.

The MV Enrica Lexie was traveling from Singapore to Egypt with a crew of 34 including 19 Indians and accompanied by six Italian marines from the San Marco Regiment, while the fishing trawler named St. Antony had left Neendakara in Kerala with a crew of 11 to fish for tuna.

According to the Indian Coast Guard, Indian government sources and the crew of the fishing boat Saint Antony, the incident occurred at approximately 16:30 IST (UTC+05:30, 2:30 PM, Rome time) when the fishing boat was returning from a fishing expedition and happened within the Indian Contiguous Zone around 20.5 nautical miles off the coast of Kerala.

The captain and owner of the St. Antony, Freddie Louis, said that their boat was returning from their fishing expedition and was waiting for the tanker to pass when the security men on board the tanker fired at the boat “without provocation”. According to him, the firing lasted for two minutes, killing driver Gelastine immediately and injuring Ajesh Binki; soon after the trawler steered out of the firing range, Binki succumbed to injuries.

Umberto Vitelli, the captain of the Enrica Lexie, claimed that the Italian naval guards opened fire in self-defence against armed pirates.