The four marines arrived at the Indian Embassy in Rome following serving of Letters Rogatory and their statements were recorded by the investigators in Delhi in the presence of a magistrate, said a home ministry official. This has now paved the way for the NIA to file a chargesheet in the Italian marines case.
External affairs minister Salman Khurshid said government was happy that the main hurdle in the case was over and the NIA could now bring all the facts before the court. Khurshid said India was desirous that the case concludes as expeditiously as possible within the legal framework of the country. The two accused marines are currently serving judicial custody at the Italian embassy here.
The four marines had refused to travel to India to record their statements, suggesting alternatives like getting examined an NIA team in Rome, through video link or by replying to a mailed questionnaire. The MHA had initially turned down all these options and insisted that the marines come down to India, citing an earlier assurance by Italy to the court that the all members of Enrica Lexie crew would be presented before the court as and when required.
With the external affairs ministry and law ministry more amenable to Italy's demand to have the four marines record their statements from Italy, the option of sending an NIA team to Rome was kept open. But since CrPC does not apply beyond India, the option of video-conferencing was found more viable. A mailed questionnaire, meanwhile, was ruled out due to some practical difficulties.
It was only after the attorney general endorsed their questioning via video-link that the MHA cleared the recording of marines' statement in the Indian embassy in Rome. Latorre and Girone have been slapped with murder charges for gunning down Kerala fishermen Ajesh Binki and Jelestine.
The NIA has questioned and recorded the statements of the Master of the vessel, Umberto Vittelli, Chief Officer James Mandley Samson, Second Officer Sahil Gupta, Semen Fulbaria Marendra, Kumar Naren and former ordinary seaman Kantamuich Tirumal Rao.