Indian cardinal intervenes on behalf of Italian Catholic shooters – AsiaOne

Cardinal George AlencherryVATICAN CITY: An Indian (Kerala) cardinal on Tuesday urged local authorities in Kerala not to take precipitate action in a row between Italy and India and warned the opposition against trying to exploit the situation.

“I immediately contacted the Catholic ministers to ask the Kerala government not to take precipitate action,” George Alencherry, archbishop major of the Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala, told Catholic news agency Fides in Rome.

Police in the southern Indian state of Kerala on Sunday arrested two Italian soldiers deployed as security guards on an Italian-flagged oil tanker for allegedly shooting dead two Indian fishermen they mistook for pirates.

Italian ship guards“It seems that the opposition wants to exploit the situation and manipulate it for political motives by talking about ‘Western powers’ and ‘the drive for American domination’,” Alencherry was quoted by Fides as saying.

Kerala is governed by a coalition led by the Congress Party which is presided by the Italian-born Catholic Sonia Gandhi. The opposition is a coalition between the Left Democratic Front and the Communist Party of India.

Alencherry was formally made a cardinal along with 21 other prelates by Pope Benedict XVI at a ceremony in St Peter’s basilica on Saturday.

Prof. K.V. ThomasHe was accompanied by Kerala native K.V. Thomas, a minister of state in the ministry of agriculture and in the ministry of consumer affairs.

Thomas “is a man of great moral stature and significant influence, both in the local and in the central government, who has assured me of his maximum effort. I guarantee my constant attention in the coming days,” Alencherry said. – AsiaOne, Singapore, Feb. 21, 2012

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  1. Fishermen killing: Italian marines to be prosecuted under Indian law, says Defence Minister Antony – TOI – Mumbai, Feb. 26, 2012

    THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Holding that the two Italian naval guards accused of killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast would be prosecuted under the Indian law, Defence Minister A K Antony today said the investigation into the case was progressing in the right direction.

    “The case will be proceeded under the Indian law. Judiciary in the country is independent,” Antony told reporters here.

    “The incident of shooting down of two hapless fishermen off the coast of Kollam on February 15 was unfortunate and equally condemnable,” he said.

    “The investigation in the case was progressing on the right direction and the Kerala government was handling it very strongly and powerfully. The Centre had extended full support to the state’s initiative,” he said.

    The arrested Italian naval guards — Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone — have been charged with murder under Section 302 of IPC.

    A Special Investigation Team led by Kochi commissioner, M R Ajith Kumar is probing the case.

    The victims — Valentine Jalastine and Ajeesh Binki — set out to sea in a boat along with nine fishermen from Neendakara fishing harbour.

    The two fishermen were allegedly killed by the marines of Italian ship ‘Enrica Lexie’ when they fired at their boat on February 15.

    The Italian authorities have contended that the fishing boat was fired, mistaking it to be a pirate vessel.

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  2. Kerala HC admits petition to quash FIR against Italian shooters – DNA, Mumbai, Feb. 23, 2012

    Kerala High Court on Thursday admitted a petition filed by the Italian government seeking to quash the FIR against two of its naval personnel, arrested in connection with the recent shooting to death of two Indian fishermen off the state coast.

    The petition filed by Italian Consul General in Mumbai Gian Paolo Cutillo and the two accused — Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone — also sought a stay on all further proceedings in the case against the two marines, arrested in connection with the February 15 incident.

    They submitted that Kerala Police has no authority to conduct investigation in the case and courts in India have no jurisdiction as the incident occurred beyond the Indian territorial waters.

    Justice P S Gopinathan, before whom the petition came up, asked the Consul General’s counsel why they were not cooperating with the investigation.”Why don’t you cooperate with the investigation?,” court asked the counsel.

    The counsel responded, saying the Kerala police had no jurisdiction to investigate the case.

    The court then granted time till next week to the central and state governments to file their counter affidavits.

    State Director General of Prosecutions T Asaf Ali told the court that the killing of the two Indian fishermen was a “brutal murder”.

    The recovery of the weapons, used for the killing, had not been effected so far and the police propose to approach the Kollam court for extending the police remand of the two marines (which ends today), he said.

    Assistant Solicitor General V Parameshwaran Nair requested the court to implead Coast Guard as additional respondent in the case.

    The court said since the Union of India was a party in the proceedings, all departments are under it.

    Meanwhile, Abhinaya Xaier (17) and Aguna Xavier (15), sisters of Ajesh Binki (25), one of the two fishermen killed by the marines, today moved the high court seeking Rs two crore compensation.

    They said the amount can be raised by selling the vessel through the high court registrar.

    Doramma, wife Jelestine alias Valentine (45), another fisherman killed, had already filed a petition in the high court seeking Rs one crore compensation.

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  3. Let law take its course, says Congress – DNA, Mumbai, Feb. 22

    With the reported remarks of an Indian cardinal over killings of two Kerala fishermen allegedly by Italian marines triggering a row, Congress on Wednesday said that the law should be allowed to take its own course in the matter.

    “It is usually not our practice to comment on matters which are either under investigation or subjudice. It should be left to the wisdom of the investigating agency or the courts who have taken cognisance of it,” party spokesman Manish Tewari told reporters.

    He said that the issue was really a legal matter and it needs to be handled through regular channels of law. “Our stand is very clear that let the law take its own course,” he said when asked about the reported remarks of the Indian Cardinal on the issue.

    He was reacting to the report by Catholic news agency ‘Fides’ in whichnewly-appointed Indian cardinal Mar George Alancherry quoted as having appealed to the state authorities not to resort to precipitate action and warned the opposition against trying to exploit the situation.

    In the ‘Fides’ report, Alancherry was quoted as saying, “In the episode, of course, there were errors, since the fishermen were mistaken for pirates. But it seems that the opposition party wants to take advantage of the situation and exploit the case for electoral reasons, speaking of ‘Western powers’ or the ‘will of American dominance'”

    A spokesperson of the Kerala-based Syro-Malabar Church said later that the statement of the Cardinal was distorted by media and he had not said anything that went against India’s position on the issue.

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  4. This Alenchery has been recently promoted to his new job in Vatican. He gave the controversial statement against Hindus that they see growth of Catholicism in INdia a threat to them.

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  5. Why is Kerala’s newest cardinal batting for Italian killers? – G. Pramod Kumar / First Post / India

    Close on the heels of reports of the Vatican’s involvement in support of the Italian naval guards who have been arrested by the Kerala police for the murder of two fishermen at sea, an alleged statement by Cardinal George Alencherry – India’s newest Roman Catholic cardinal — has stirred a new controversy.

    Agenzia Fides in Rome has reported that Alencherry “has taken an interest in mediating and seeking a peaceful solution to the delicate situation. Fides further said in an interview that the cardinal has 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”, removing the risk, however real, of political exploitation.”

    The Latin Catholics, mostly on the coastal belt of Kerala, are not likely to be happy with the reported statement from Alencherry, who is from the substantially more socio-politically influential Syro Malabar Church. Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters
    “I am and will remain in close contact with the Catholic ministers of Kerala and I hope that they will help to pacify the situation. In particular, I trust in the work of the Tourism Minister, the Catholic KV Thomas, who participated in the consistory in Rome in past days and attended the mass with the Holy Father and the new cardinals: he is a man of great moral stature and of significant influence, both in the local and central government, and he assured me his maximum effort. I guarantee, in the next few days, my constant involvement with the Indian authorities on the matter”.

    “I learned the story of the Catholic fishermen killed: it is very sad. I immediately contacted the Catholic ministers of Kerala urging the government not to act precipitately. In the episode, of course, there were errors, since the fishermen were mistaken for pirates. But the point is another: it seems that the opposition party wants to take advantage of the situation and exploit the case for electoral reasons, speaking of ‘Western powers’ or the ‘will of American dominance’,” he is quoted as saying by Fides.

    The Latin Catholic Church in Kollam reacted sharply to the alleged statement of Alencherry. They called it unfortunate and said it was against the interests and sentiments of the fisherfolk. The families of the victims also vehemently slammed the alleged statement.

    However, the spokesperson of Alencherry’s Syro Malabar Church has denied any such remarks by the cardinal. He said that Italian news agency, which has reportedly carried the statement, would have twisted it. The cardinal also didn’t speak to any Catholic ministers on this, he said.

    George Alencherry is currently in Rome following his investiture by the Pope.

    The Latin Catholics, mostly on the coastal belt of Kerala, are not likely to be happy with the reported statement from Alencherry, who is from the substantially more socio-politically influential Syro Malabar Church. This controversy is likely to amplify the socio-political divide between the two communities, although both are Catholics.

    Cardinal George Alencherry

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  6. Cardinal Allenchery urging local authorities in Kerala not to take precipitate action against the arrested Italian Navy personnel proves that Churches to whichever country they may belong are controlled and run by foreign masters and the Church people are accountable to those masters only not to Indians.

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  7. Italian minister coming for MV Enrica Lexie talks – Deccan Herald, New Delhi, Feb. 21, 2012

    Italy’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Staffan De Mistura is expected to visit India on Wednesday, even as New Delhi maintained that Indian law would take its own course in connection with the arrest of two Italian Navy personnel for killing two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala last week.

    New Delhi on Tuesday negated Rome’s contention that Indian laws would not apply on Italian Navy personnel as the alleged incident took place at a time when the vessel they were deployed in was sailing in international waters.

    Mistura will “continue on a political level the action so far carried out by a delegation of experts from the foreign, defence and justice ministries,” the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in Rome.

    Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Maria Terzi di Sant’Agata is also likely to come to India next Tuesday on a pre-scheduled visit.

    Italian Navy personnel Lotorre Massimilano and Salvatore Girone were arrested by Kerala Police on Sunday for allegedly opening fire at an Indian fishing vessel off the coast of Kerala from onboard MV Enrica Lexie, which was on its way from Singapore to Egypt.

    Law of the land

    The Indian government has maintained that any incident involving an Indian or an Indian vessel was subject to law of the land in India.

    “We have made it very clear to them (Italy) that as representatives of India, we will go by our legal process. Of course, there are differences of opinions,” a government source said here.

    Official sources also stressed that the incident was still at the stage of investigation, and Italy was free to present any issue of judicial nature through its legal counsel in the court.

    India had already offered Italy consular access to Massimilano and Girone, whom a local court at Kollam in Kerala on remanded to judicial custody for 14 days on Monday.

    Sources also said that New Delhi was sure that the fishermen had not been carrying any weapons, when they had been fired upon, and there was no reason for the Italian Navy personnel on board the vessel to mistake them as pirates.

    Mutually acceptable

    Terzi had last Saturday called up Krishna to seek a “mutually acceptable procedure to establish the facts beyond any doubt and determine responsibilities” for the death of the two fishermen, Ajesh Binki, 25, and Jalastein, 45, who were killed by bullets fired by the Italian Navy personnel on board Enrica Lexie off the coast of Kerala last Wednesday.

    New Delhi had rejected Rome’s call for “mutually acceptable procedure” with Krishna telling Terzi that the law of the land should be allowed to take its own course.

    Rome authorities to move Kerala HC

    The Italian authorities are planning to move the Kerala High Court demanding quashing of an FIR against two security personnel of accused of firing and killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast on February 15.

    The petition is likely to be filed before Kerala High Court by a senior Supreme Court advocate for Italian authorities in a day or two.

    According to sources, the petitioners will reiterate their stand that the incident happened outside Indian waters and therefore the FIR would not stand.

    Italian authorities are also of the opinion that there are contradictions in the FIR and the report submitted to court by Indian security agencies.

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