Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Italian Navy Kill Fisherman - Not Pirates

Investigation is continuing into a possible case of mistaken identity off of the west Coast of INDIA. On 15 February 2012 (1747), reports indicated that the Italian Navy had thwarted pirate attacks against the Enrica Lexie. In that report, the riflemen of the San Marco Batallion acting as a Vessel Protection Detail, engaged what was interpreted to be a threat from pirates around 1230 local time. The article from AGLit is available HERE
Concurrently, the HINDU times reported that "Two fishermen were shot dead in the high seas"(Article available HERE )  off of AMBALAPUHZA on Wednesday evening after having been mistaken for pirates. In both media reports, the name of the vessel (Enrica Lexi) was specifically and clearly identified and it has been indicated that the events were reported to the Coast Guard.

There are significant differences in the reported events. While Italian media are being rather consistent in terms of indicating that soldiers followed procedures for opening fire three times to dissuade the pirates and, after the third volley, the pirates left. The Hindu Times, however, indicated that the vessel was hit by a shower of bullets that lasted about two minutes and, in order to escape the gun fire, they sailed away from the vicinity of the vessel.

Of particular note is that the fishing vessel is reporting that it was within INDIA's territorial waters at the time of the firing. The Indian Coast Guard has indicated that fishing vessels will often come close to merchant vessels in order to prevent them from damaging their nets.

While the loss of life in this case would appear to be both regrettable and difficult to explain until a full investigation has taken place, it serves to illustrate that the use of military forces on board vessels does not preclude events of this nature. This should be clearly understood, particularly given certain groups within the shipping community that are demanding the use of military personnel on board their vessels in lieu of private security personnel.

1 comment:

  1. The mt ENRICA LEXIA had no business to be so close to the Indian coast. And basic seamanship tells you that so close to the coast, the ship stays clear of fishing vessels, especially since she is not calling any Indian port. Furthermore, after the murder, the ship tried to flee by sailing West, and returned to Kochi only after being ordered to by the Indian Coast Guard (2 cutters and an aircraft) and an Indian Navy ship.

    Satellite pictures are shortly being made available but interim, it is interesting to learn that the Italian defence is that they "flashed lights" at the boat. At 4:30 in the afternoon?

    This is simplemurder on the high seas, and the Master as well as gunmen should be tried for that.