This document will analyse "ANNEX 3" attached to Indian documents filed at the International Tribunal for the Law Of the Sea (ITLOS) in Hamburg on 6 August, 2015
This document is the final police report about the events of 15 February 2012 and contains everything that occurred as concerns the investigation until 18 May 2012, as transmitted to the Indian Judiciary.
Pages 4 and 5 mention the names of the two defendants, M. Latorre and S. Girone, and proceed to describe the facts and refer explicitly (on page 7) to Indian laws applicable to the accused: "That by above illegal acts, the accused have committed offences under section 302, 307 and 427 R/W 34 IPC and section 3 of SUA Act 2002".
So the Kerala Police on 18.05.2012 tells the Kerala Judiciary that the two accused are guilty and indicates the applicable laws, including Sec. 3 of the SUA Act to which we will return later.
Every investigation (and hence its subsequent criminal procedure) is based on fixed elements that must help reconstruct facts. And such facts are the "Truth".
- Events - The unfolding of events;
- Witnesses – All their available testimonies;
- Exhibits - All objects that can have a direct relation with the offence;
- Scientific Evidence - Scientific analysis on victims and exhibits;
- Conclusions - Factual data > Logical path > Conclusions.
Now apparently the Charge Sheet clarifies everything, but in fact nothing really matches:
- The Events – Their description under Annex 1 show obvious (and verifiable) gaps. For example let us start with the news reported to the Neendakara Police at 17:40 IST when they should start with the SSAS alarm raised by Enrica Lexie at 11:23 UTC. Read more about this under "Analysis Annex 1";
- The Witnesses - Testimonies appear contradictory and inaccurate to the limit of reticence, for example, the main prosecution witness contradicts himself on the time of the shooting, on the relevant geographic positions (he alters his version four times with incongruous positions that were never close to Enrica Lexie – check "Analysis Annex 2" on this) and more will be brought to light in this chapter;
- The Exhibits – While all those that could be found on the Enrica Lexie are there, the missing ones are all those that could have been found from other potential perpetrators which no one wanted to investigate;
- The Scientific Evidence – It is illogical, it bears no factual match and it is misleading with its conclusions. It claims a human eye can appreciate hundredths of a millimetre (see "Analysis Annex 8").
Moreover, Annex 7 declares in page 33 that the bullets seized, calibre 5.56x45mm., "are approximately similar" to those found in the corpses but the conclusions in page 35 subtly omit any approximation and the wording changes to “are similar”.
As to the "firing marks compatibility” this will be a joyful topic for future generations of students in Forensic Ballistics (see "Analysis Annex 7").
- Conclusions – Nothing was withheld to support this case: ITLOS Hamburg even received a forged drawing entitled "The Crime Scene" which shows the Enrica Lexie direction deliberately altered by 20° so as to suit the prosecution (see "Analysis Annex 48").
Since this Court Expert is convinced that the Charge Sheet submitted by the Prosecution will be rejected by any court, be it Italian, Indian, Dutch or German (provided that the defence counsel submits this document), thus coming to a clear acquittal for the two defendants, it will help if we offer investigative suggestions, should a fresh investigation be carried out. Last but not least one should consider that cal. 7.62mm bullets just cannot pass through the barrel of a 5.56mm cal. rifle.
Our wish is that in the meantime the Indian side may create a serious commission of enquiry on those responsible for this investigation and on how they performed, based on what you will read henceforth.
Of course we will always face a "partisan side for guilt" which will be in denial against all logic, evidence and verifiability, owing to various motivations (economic, ideological, lobbies, etc...) and will keep writing about "the two Marines who killed two unarmed fishermen".
Others will keep an equivocal position, full of doubts, careful not to upset left or right. This is playing for the gallery.
Circumstantial evidence on possible culprits for the St.Antony shooting
To start with a "circumstantial trial" is possible. The Italian legal system allows it and a final verdict may be reached should facts be ascertained "beyond any reasonable doubt". In this kind of trial the judges’ “written motivations” bear particular relevance, but they will nevertheless be checked again, in the Italian system, by subsequent appeals.
The events on that afternoon of 15 February, according to the Charge Sheet:
For the policeman on duty at the Neendakara Maritime Police Station it was not difficult to understand that something was wrong, suspicion being part and parcel of any police officer’s job.
Some Alphonse Philip shows up at 17:40 IST. He says some Aloysius phoned him, who got the call from a certain Prabhu, that a fishing boat hit by a merchant ship is heading back with two victims on board. So much so that he comments in his register that the information was submitted in a "cryptical" manner.
He nevertheless sends the alarm to the Coast Guard and the MRCC Mumbai (about 800 Km due North) which start their search (see "Analysis Annex 1"). He then waits patiently for the arrival of the fishing boat St.Antony which docks at about 23:00 IST.
No attempt to call the boat by radio, no patrol boat sent to the rescue, absolutely no action. And evidence tells us the same happens on the boat, in spite of a functioning VHF radio no one else gets any call (the St.Antony skipper says in his first statement that his call was to Prabhu only, who will then call Aloysious, who will then call Alphonse Philip, who will then alert the Police so "cryptically").
It does not make sense, whoever gets attacked with gunfire and has two victims on board calls the authorities, gives his position, all information and asks for rescue.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai Coast Guard begins its search, orders two coastguard vessels (Samar and Lakshmibai) to sail to the incident area and a Maritime Research Dornier aircraft takes off at 19:35 IST. This Dornier plane identifies the Enrica Lexie at 19:50 IST and "advises" it to head for the port of Kochi, at a sailing distance of two hours.
Matching these times is an impossible task.
First of all the Mumbai Coast Guard already have at 11:23 UTC an SSAS Alert from the Enrica Lexie, complete with name, course and position, and therefore have no need to launch an air-and-sea search, all they need do is call them by radio.
In fact, as mentioned in the Enrica Lexie Log Book (submitted by Italy to ITLOS who then made it public - see Annex A14) and also by the statements by Captain Vitelli, by Second Captain Noviello and by two Indian sailors Mr Gupta and Mr Samson, the Mumbai Coast Guard called by radio at 18:30 ELT, long before the Dornier plane “located” Enrica Lexie at 19:50 IST.
Why this air-and-sea charade? Which event must be created with so much noise? Which fact needs instead to be shadowed in order to have that same fact ignored?
The story of Olympic Flair
The Olympic Flair is a Greek tanker, very similar to the Italian ship, which on that same day 15.02.2012, quite a few hours after the Enrica Lexie incident, reports a boarding attempt near the port of Kochi. This confirms the fact that on that day that stretch of coast was not crossed exclusively by merchant ships and harmless fishermen.
15.02.2012: 1650 UTC: Position: 09°57’N – 076°02’E, around 2.5 NM South of SPM Cochin Anchorage, India – About 20 robbers in two boats approached an anchored tanker (Olympic Flair) and attempted to board her. The lookout crew noticed the robbers, raised the alarm and crew mustered. The robbers aborted the attack seeing the crew awareness and moved away.
As stated by the report the Greeks sent the IMO (International Maritime Organization) and other enforcement organisations, Indian Coast Guard included, the tanker Olympic Flair states it was attacked at night, at 16:50 UTC while at anchor, 2.5 NM south of Kochi Oil Terminal (SPM), some 11 NM from the coastline (just inside Indian territorial waters).
Two boats with about twenty criminals (pirates, bandits, plunderers you name them) attempt to board her but, according to the report, since the crew was alerted they give up and flee. That is all. No use of weapons, no one hurt, no fire hydrants, no grenades, nothing at all.
At this point it is worth recalling that:
- Enrica Lexie is approached by a single boat on a day with optimal visibility while sailing the high seas at cruising speed with no cargo
- The Olympic Flair is approached at night by twice the number of men and boats while at anchor and presumably fully loaded
- For the Italian ship signalling, showing their weapons, trying intimidation by firing a few shots were hardly enough before the unknown boat aborts its approach attempt
- The crew of the Greek ship, which was a far “easier” target, foils the attack by apparently putting on a good show, maybe a Sirtaki dance on deck.
This is not the only aberration linked to the Olympic Flair incident. As we shall see, thanks to the documents submitted by Italy and India to ITLOS in Hamburg, which this Court correctly made public, we can say that the IMO report is false, not as an opinion by this Court Expert, but because it is does not state the whole truth.
But first things first.
In the days following the events the Italian press raised the Olympic Flair question and that degenerated into Indian frenzied press reactions stating that was an Italian attempt to pass responsibilities on to the innocent Greeks.
The Diaplous Maritime Services
From the Greek side they at first denied a pirate attack, then they admitted it, again they denied at first that contractors (armed private guards) were on board the Olympic Flair to defend the ship, but finally the truth leaked, thanks to Italian journalists Gian Micalessin (Il Giornale) and Ennio Remondino (on Globalist.it): contractors were actually present aboard the Olympic Flair, hired from the specialised security company Diaplous Maritime Services, but without weapons!
According to the statements released from Athens these men were hired unarmed, for an Indian Ocean cruise, in order “not to defend” the ship but were paid good money as guests on board. One only needs to look at the Diaplous website to realise how things actually stand: http://www.diaplous-ms.com
The Charge Sheet makes no mention whatsoever of this pirate attack, as if it had not occurred or it were irrelevant to the investigation into the deaths of the two fishermen. Instead it is obvious that, having received news of two pirate attacks on the same day and in the same area at the very least two vessels should have been detained: the Enrica Lexie and Olympic Flair. This amounts to negligent omission by the Indian authorities in their investigation.
This negligent omission distorts the entire prosecution, thus leading us to think of something far more serious, the reasons of which we cannot yet fathom but are referred to in the Enrica Lexie Log Book.
Had seized Two Craft
In their phone call at 18:30 ELT the Coast Guard say they had been informed about the suspect pirate attack and, as a result, "had seized two crafts". They then ask the Enrica Lexie to make a diversion to reach Kochi and cooperate. Captain Vitelli agrees, he only asks that a written request be sent for the change of course.
This phone call has so far been presented as a "clever trick" by the Coast Guard to lure Enrica Lexie into port by disguising their assumption that the Italian ship was responsible for the death of the two fishermen.
But according to the Enrica Lexie’s Log Book this phone call has quite a different value. In fact, the Coast Guard declare they "had seized two crafts" whereas the Italian description of the incident always refers to a single boat.
One must recall that a ship’s "Log Book" is a document drawn up by the Captain (who on board legally sums up the functions of a Police Officer, Civil Registrar Officer and Notary Public) and such document should be considered "true until proven false".
So no assumptions, fantasies, guesswork are of any use. To counter a Log Book valid judiciary evidence must emerge to prove that what is written is false, in which case those who write it commit a criminal offence (Italian Criminal Code art. 476).
Which two crafts?
Why "two" pirate crafts if the attack to the Olympic Flair by "two boats" will only be reported at 16:50 UTC, after about 4 hours? Is the Crystal Ball of Merlin in standard supply at the Mumbai MRCC? Do they seize pirate boats even before they attack ships?
An efficiency unheard of! It is clear that this pirate attack on the Olympic Flair did not occur at 16:50 UTC as reported to the IMO if four hours earlier the two pirate boats had already been seized.
And if we take a look at the Olympic Flair report to the IMO at 16:50 UTC we can read that this ship declares it was attacked by two pirate boats, instead of one!
The Log Book could lead us to conclude that the Olympic Flair attack at 18:30 ELT had already occurred since it is just this ship that tated it was attacked by two pirate boats.
The contention that this may be a coincidence is just inadmissible since highly unlikely. Not only do the Coast Guard mention an event that will occur only four hours later, but they also maintain that they "as a result, had seized two crafts". Two boats as in the Olympic Flair event that will officially occur 4 hours later. No way, you cannot make a mistake here.
Huge Noise and Ball of Fire
Neendakara, at 23:00 IST, the docking of St.Antony: Upon St.Antony’s arrival VENAD News, a Kerala press agency, does a video recording of the entire scene. We see St.Antony dock, the corpses, their landing and removal and finally the skipper of the fishing boat Mr Freddy Bosco releases his first statement in front of witnesses, cameras, microphones, next to a police officer.
He begins with "When it was around 9:30 PM I heard a huge noise" (see "Analysis of Annex 2" where his testimony is dealt with in detail).
In Malayalam different words describe 9:30 AM or PM. Bosco states 9:30 PM, i.e. 21:30 IST.
What can this "huge noise" be that Bosco heard before the bullets were even fired?
Surely not a calibre 5.56mm rifle shot which, out in the open seas, could even go unheard when distant 100 to 200mt
Let us say that there is more than enough to create suspicion in a policeman, that same Sub-Inspector who at 17:40 IST got the information from Alphonse Philip. How come that Sub-Inspector raised the alarm at 17:40 IST, started an air-and-sea search and Bosco now says they were shot at only at 21:30 IST?!
Sherlock Holmes would have wanted a clear explanation!
But let us focus on the "huge noise": where can it come from?
The answer is the Stun Grenades used by the Diaplous contractors, whose presence on board tanker Olympic Flair was ascertained only after over a year of patient effort. Such grenades are specifically used to produce that "huge noise" which, according to Diaplous, deters pirates.
The Diaplous stun grenades do deter pirates but it can well be said that they also frighten fishermen!
In this article on The Hindu, dated 8 March 2012 (22 days after the incident of Enrica Lexie), there is a report about an episode that seems copied from what Mr Freddy Bosco stated after docking upon his arrival in Neendakara.
Here are two fishing boats, one also named St.Antony, the other named Joshua, that are fishing in front of Kollam.
An oil tanker in transit fires a "ball of fire" over their heads as well as gun shots.
Luckily this time there are no victims.
Where was the Olympic Flair on that 15 February, 2012?
Now we can entertain a well-founded suspicion that the Olympic Flair is involved in the shootout against St.Antony. In court they say that three clues do amount to evidence and so far we have two (the phone call at 18:30 ELT by the Coast Guard saying two boats were seized and the huge noise witnessed by Mr Bosco).
All would be in vain if we could verify (as evidence) that the Olympic Flair at 16:50 UTC (when it reports a pirate attack and sends it to the IMO) was actually where it said it was, according to its declared geographic co-ordinates, i.e. 2.5 NM south of Kochi oil terminal.
That we cannot verify but we have instead proof of the opposite, and this another piece of evidence rather than a simple clue.
The images below are based on AIS data made public for free or paid by some specialized sites, some of which provide AIS data on individual ships. Based on such data you can usually find out everything about their geographical location, movements etc... This excludes vessels navigating in HRA which shut down their AIS to avoid monitoring by pirate organisations and their attacks.
All times given here are UTC and dotted line mean no signal. To south of Mumbai when heading south for Kochi switch off his AIS.
That means she lost contact at 00:29 UTC on the 13th and (E.T.A.) was meant to reach Kochi SPM at 08:00 UTC on 15 February 2012, the day of our events.
The dotted line gives us the northward journey of the Olympic Flair until it starts its AIS, again in south of Mumbai, on the 20 February 2012 with a “fantasy destination” i.e. Arzew (Algeria) with E.T.A. 1 December, that is over 9 months later!
Its “hiding” lasted a whole week, between 13 and 20 February.
Should we consider that, after she was attacked by two pirate boats at 16:50 UTC in front of Kochi on the 15 Feb, the Olympic Flair weighed anchor and sped away, then we must point out that she did it at a snail’s pace, at roughly half its speed.
The Greek oil tanker travels around 600 NM without AIS. On the way forward, going south it takes about two days, returning to the north almost five days. What is likely, is that she must have stopped somewhere.
Here are some possibilities we cannot rule out but ought to be verified:
- she remains at the oil terminal to download, obvious for an oil tanker(!);
- she reaches earlier than expected and offloads her oil before her shooting;
- after her shooting she hears on radio about the dead fishermen and flees;
- a long detour West, between the Maldives and the Lakshadweep islands.
However, in the meantime, we should understand and verify that fantasy destination (Arzew with E.T.A. in December) after switching the AIS on again on 20 February.
In the picture on the side we can follow the Olympic Flair voyage through its AIS and find these readings:
- - 2012/02/22 19:33 Destination: ARZEW (again inserted while rounding the Strait of Hormuz);
- - 2012/02/22 23:43 Destination: KHAHGISLAND (misspelling for Khark Island in Iran);
- - 2012/02/26 12:59 Destination: ARZEW (Algeria again);
- - 2012/02/26 15:38 Destination: FUJAIRAH (United Arab Emirates);
- - 2012/02/27 21:35 Destination: VISAKHAPATNAM (Bay of Bengal, India).
Nothing strange, the Olympic Flair does not want to be monitored by pirate organizations and provides fantasy data, but it is clear that its AIS cannot certify what her actual position was on 15 February since it has no AIS data.
Nor can her spokesmen’s statements be taken at face value since, after lying about the presence of security contractors on board, they can only be seen as totally unreliable.
Lies are always motivated by some reason.
Let us return to Neendakara
We left Mr Freddy Bosco where he declared that the shooting occurred at 21:30 IST.
Only a few minutes later he is at the police station and makes a totally different statement. They were fired on at 16:30 IST, the same time of the Enrica Lexie incident.
In a dramatic recall he describes "the bullets came in like torrential rain" but the huge noise is gone.
He declares “I called Prabhu” to warn him. The boat position at the time of his incident just does not match with the Enrica Lexie’s at the time of her incident. Later on he will retain that time at 16:30 IST but will give another three different positions, all tens of kilometres away from the Enrica Lexie at the time of the incident.
And what did the other fishermen say? Here is a line in the Charge Sheet on page 8: “On 16.02.2012 CW-58 questioned the witnesses CW-2 to CW-9 and recorded their statements”
Chargesheet Witness: CW-58 is a Neendakara policeman and CW 2 to 9 are the other eight St.Antony fishermen, Bosco excluded).
Since no other witnesses were recorded in any document one can only assume that the other St.Antony crew members confirmed Bosco’s statements to the police. But here is a surprise.
On the next day 17.02.2012 all these fishermen, including Mr Bosco, are interviewed by a reporter from The Hindu, a newspaper, and give him a completely different version of events.
In this interview the journalist, though blaming the Enrica Lexie for the death of the two fishermen (this version of events was aired by the Coast Guard since the morning of the previous day), states that the incident occurred at night (“evening”) and he probably had heard of Bosco’s declarations upon docking at Neendakara.
The St.Antony fishermen declare they were fishing at 14 NM off the Alappuzha coast and decided to head SOUTH.
They reiterate they were inside territorial waters, point to their mobile phone being within its working range as evidence of that. Mr Freddy also declares that the "aggressor" ship was “not sailing within the prescribed shipping channel” for commercial ships but was closer to shore “east of the channel”.
These statements make it evident that St.Antony cannot come across the Enrica Lexie at 16:30 IST and 20.5 NM offshore, since St.Antony was 14 NM offshore, then headed South to return within the 12 NM limit, while Enrica Lexie was sailing 20.5 NM offshore and heading North-West.
We cannot figure out how, after a shooting with two casualties on board and a working mobile phone, no one called either the Coast Guard or their families. Instead of using it to call the authorities Mr Bosco will use his VHF radio to call Prabhu, the owner of the vessel.
And why does Prabhu, rather than calling the Coastal Police after the news, call Aloysious, who then calls Alphonse Philip, who finally will alert the Coastal Police at 17:30 IST ? (See Analysis of Annex 2)
And why did not the Coast Guard to Kochi or MRCC to Mumbai call Bosco, at least at 17:40 IST, demanding full details of the shooting, the position, the status of victims etc...?
Why do they keep quiet, though communication was no problem, and wait until at least 23:00 IST when they reach Neendakara harbour? Though able to communicate why does Bosco, the boat skipper, describe the facts to the Coastal Police only at 23:00 IST on the Neendakara pier?
But above all: which is the ship closer to shore that fires at St.Antony, and why Bosco’s Neendakara declaration, that places events under a totally different light, is found nowhere in the Charge Sheet?
The omissions are really too many to give credibility to the prosecution against the Italian military.
Let us go back to Kochi and look for the third clue.
Let us consider the time and point of anchorage of Enrica Lexie off the Port of Kochi. We refer to a previously mentioned passage, in the Enrica Lexie Log Book, about the 18:30 ELT phone call and the seizure of two pirate boats.
Enrica Lexie anchorage position and time off Kochi
Incredibly (the devil is in the details...) the Enrica Lexie, now off Kochi at 21:18 ELT, is ordered to drop anchor and does it at 21:48 ELT, close to the SPM oil terminal, practically where Olympic Flair later at 22:20 IST reports an attack by two pirate boats while at anchor.
The alleged scene would have it that at 22:18 IST the Enrica Lexie, under escort by ICGS Lakshmimbai, drops anchor close to the Olympic Flair, 5 NM to East.
And that while a Dornier plane is watching from above.
Then at 22:18 IST we have the Enrica Lexie, the Olympic Flair a plane and a ships from ICG, all lying within a very small area. And at 22:20 IST two pirate boats, regardless of such deployment of forces, attempt an attack on the Olympic Flair!
The Olympic Flair launches the alarm... but does not ask for help from the nearby military vessels. From the military ships no one takes any notice, not even the navy ship radars notice. Anything the crew of the Olympic Flair "muster” (of course with no noise) and only the pirates notice them and then flee. All flee, the Olympic Flair too.
Conclusive hypothesis on Olympic Flair
The items available are more than circumstantial evidence and are presented by the Enrica Lexie Log Book, by the document Annex 1 "Events" by the Coast Guard, by the Olympic Flair IMO report, by the contradictory testimonies of Mr Freddy Bosco, by the statements the St.Antony crew gave the press on 17.02.2012, at odds with the affidavits by three of them (Kinserian, Freddy, Michael) in July 2015.
Moreover, it can be concluded that the entire affair is very different from what has so far been presented, that the roles of the Olympic Flair and the Coast Guard need to be fully ascertained. This Court Expert is too "expert" to declare this is the "Truth", it is for the Court and the judges to reach a reasoned judgment.
But it is my hope that no one ends up trying his fellow citizens on the basis of that Charge Sheet and ignore what is stated above. Should that be the case then the defence counsel would be compelled to request that the facts be established with verifiable evidence, evidence that cannot come from either the Olympic Flair or the Coast Guard because of the existing legitimate doubt that they are a party to this story.
Assumptions about Sri Lanka
Back in March 2012, at the start of this affair, information was released in Italy about the size of the bullet, a post-mortem exhibit, which was later confirmed in August 2015 by the documents India filed in Hamburg.
A "Sri Lanka Trail” was given credit owing to three clues:
- The size of the bullet led to a 7.62x54R cartridge, and there is ample documentation on Sri Lankan Coast Guard Arrow boats fitted with weapons firing these rounds.
- A large number of reports exists about incidents with Indian fishermen trespassing into Sri Lankan territorial waters for tuna fishing in the Palk Strait, where Sri Lankan fishermen and Coast Guard try to prevent it (one of many "fish wars" that occur around the world).
- The St.Antony fishermen say they had been out at sea a few days before the incident to look for tuna fish that are mainly found in the south, in the Palk Strait, not in front of Kollam.
Therefore a second investigation hypothesis (besides the Olympic Flair) to look for possible clues was that the St.Antony could have been fired on at 21:30 IST on the previous day i.e. on 14 February.
That would entail considering that:
- - the St.Antony crew was reluctant to be punished for trespassing;
- - the Kerala authorities needed to avoid jeopardising the outcome of an imminent election with a new clash on fishing areas;
- - the central Indian government had no desire to jeopardise the normalisation of relations with Sri Lanka.
Hence the decision to blame one of the many oil tankers that sail in front of the Kerala coast.
An investigation in this direction is therefore entirely legitimate, in order to find clues and news about any incidents on 14 February which involved Indian fishing boats. After over six years nothing has emerged after examining Sri Lankan media verifiable via the Internet, though one may well think that every party involved had a vested interest in sticking to a strict silence.
Differences between the Sri Lankan and the Olympic Flair trails
While working on the Olympic Flair trail, whenever we came across new information this gained credit owing to new clues in favour of the defence. This also happened with the documents recently made public by ITLOS.
Instead the Sri Lankan trail has produced nothing new and we are stuck with the above three initial clues.
In the end only the Olympic Flair analysis showed a clear evolution potential, whereas the Sri Lankan trail after some time brought no development.
However, this Sri Lanka trail is mentioned here because its initial considerations are still valid, since it appears from the documents that the Indian authorities never investigated in this direction, in spite of their duty to do so in view of the contradictions and unreliability of the witnesses. This points to “blatant omissions by the prosecution” already detected elsewhere in this affair. Finally, we wish to demonstrate how this affair was analyzed from all possible and reasonably sustainable points of view, without any bias towards one or the other trail.
When did the St.Antony shooting occur? At what time and on what day?
There is circumstantial evidence pointing to the day before 14.02.2012 at 21:30 IST in the Palk Strait, the tuna fishing area where dozens of clashes occurred between trespassing Indian fishermen and the Sri Lankan Coast Guard and/or the local fishermen in defence of their own fishing grounds.
Let us assume Mr Freddy Bosco refers to 21.30 IST, but on the previous day 14 February 2012.
We know St.Antony had sailed on 7 February for a 10-day tuna fishing trip.
FAO studies of regional fishing, for that October to April period, locate the usual Indian Ocean tuna fishing areas in the Bay of Bengal (especially off the south-eastern coast of India) which is opposite to the point of the alleged attempted attack but close to the Sri Lankan Palk Strait, where Indian fishermen often trespass into Sri Lankan waters.
Clashes, arrests, sunken boats, disappearances, wounded and casualties are commonplace in that area. The Sri Lankan Coast Guard and fishermen are indeed determined to protect their fishery resources from the invasion of other fishermen coming from the nearby Indian state of Tamil Nadu (incidentally the same state where St.Antony is registered).
Just google “save the Tamil Nadu fishermen” and you will be flooded by the news.
“Nearly 500 Indian fisherman have been killed in the Indian Ocean by Sri Lankan Navy/Coast Guard and the Indian Central Govt has so far not taken any stern actions to stop the killings. TN fisherman are wondering whether they are still part of India. We are seeking support from the fellow Indian brothers and sisters to appeal to the Indian Govt to stop this bloodshed.”
The tacit assent of the Indian central government and the Kerala state government to the violence and killings of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Coast Guard, as well as by armed local fishermen, is often reported by Indian fishermen organisations.
Recently comparisons appeared in the news saying that the harshness shown to the two Italian military finds no match when facing the crimes committed by Sri Lanka.
Had the incident really occurred at 21:30 IST on 14 February, i.e. 25 hours before returning to Neendakara harbour with its sad load of victims, which would clearly establish that the Italian military were never involved in the St.Antony incident, would it be possible to set the murder of the two fishermen in the context of the Indo-Sri Lankan fish war?
The image above shows the area of 200 NM from which St.Antony could reach Neendakara Harbor at 22.30 IST on 15 Feb. Sailing 25 hours at speed of 8 kts (maximum speed of St.Antony) following a hypothetical shooting in the Strait of Palk, the border between the Indian and Sri Lankan territorial seas, where armed clashes take place more often.
The hypothesis appears perfectly probable.
Cross checking of this hypothesis
According to the autopsy report (see Analysis of Annex 4), signed by Ms K. Sasikala, Professor of Forensic Medicine and Police Surgeon, of the Trivandrum Govt Medical College: the metallic bullet with a pointed tip found inside the skull of one fisherman 'measured 3.1 cm in length and 2 cm in circumference at a point 2.4 cm above the base.'
As we can see above the bullet size mentioned by the post-mortem excludes the bullets supplied to the Italian military and coincides almost perfectly with that of the 7.62x54R cartridge fired by former Soviet rifle Dragunov and PKM machine gun.
This image above shows us a Sri Lankan Coast Guard patrol boat and an 'Arrow boats', each armed with two PKM machine guns which fire precisely those 7.62x54R rounds.
Of course we are aware that such evidence could be based on coincidences that may occur by accident, that weapons using 7.62x54R cartridges are widespread in that area and that they are in the hands of regular forces, pirates etc...
It is for the reasons given before and for the sake of a thorough presentation that we chose not to ignore this circumstance.
Annex 3 represents the synthesis of the prosecution by the Indian authorities against the two defendants.
It all hints to an alleged "guilt" as claimed by the Republic of India representative at ITLOS.
The prosecution scheme appears based on:
- - The events (Annex 1)
- - The testimonies (Annex 2)
- - Scientific evidence (Annexes 7, 8 and 48)
- - A complex set of accusations (Annex 3)
The analysis of the various Annexes demonstrates the inconsistency of prosecution papers which we will not summarize here, but will refer to their individual analyses.
Annex 3 in fact summarises such inconsistencies, it shows obvious omissions by investigators on items which cannot simply be ruled out as "circumstantial evidence".
It is clear that if the two accused were prosecuted in India, based on Annex 3 - Charge Sheet, which certifies inconsistencies as true and fails to investigate in other directions, even in the face of very consistent evidence, the two accused could never expect a fair trial thus contravening to all Italian, European and international legal principles.