Kochi: Kochi Police on Sunday began questioning crew members of Italian ship Enrica Lexie over the killing of two Indian fishermen near Kochi port on February 15. The interrogation was started by the police using interpreters said sources.
The Italian Consulate General in Kochi as well. But Rome has hardened its stand.
Sources said Rome wants to take legal action against the two marines as per the United Nations Convention and has invited India to act as an interested party, something which New Delhi is against.
An Italian team comprising of diplomats and legal experts will be coming to Delhi later on Sunday to discuss legal aspects of the case.
Kochi's Police Commissioner Ajith Kumar had earlier visited the vessel on Saturday evening - the second visit by a police team for the day and met the captain and crew. The crew was told to surrender or face police action.
"Italian authorities have agreed to hand over two guards of Enrica Lexie to Kerala Police for questioning after Minister of External Affairs SM Krishna on Saturday talked to his Italian counterpart Giulio Maria Terzi di Sant'Agata regarding the Indian fishermen killing incident."
External Affairs Minister SM Krishna has told Italy that they will have to face a probe under Indian laws. But Italians have reportedly refused to cooperate.
During his talks, Krishna has told his Italian counterpart that Indian law will have to be followed in the fishermen killing incident and the crew of Enrica Lexie will have to face probe. Krishna told the Italian minister that the crew of the ship should have exercised restraint as fishermen carried no arms, but only fishing nets.
The Italian foreign minister has expressed regret and sought mutually acceptable procedure to establish facts.
The Italian ship's crew had till now refused to be questioned and had said they will cooperate only after discussing the matter with their diplomats.
Two fishermen, Ajesh Binki, 25, from Tamil Nadu and Gelastine, 45, from Kerala, were mistaken as pirates and shot dead by the crew of the Italian cargo vessel, about 14 nautical miles off Alappuzha.