Armed Guards Accountability
The sister of the Indian fisherman shot dead in February by Italian marines tells of her loss. If the criminal case goes ahead in the port city of Kochi, it would be the first attempt to hold armed maritime guards accountable for the deaths of innocent people in an anti- piracy operation
Brother Shot Dead Fishing Tests Armed Guards’ Accountability
Seventeen-year-old Aguna Xavier breaks down in tears when she talks about her dead older brother. He was shot in February after Italian marines protecting a commercial tanker allegedly mistook him for a pirate off the coast of India, where he fished to earn a living.
Ajeesh Pink took his sisters swimming and told them jokes, she says, bringing levity to a life marred by losing both parents and seeing parts of their village washed away by the 2004 tsunami. After his death, she failed 10th grade.
“It’s all lost now,” says Aguna Xavier, covering her eyes as she sits in a pink plastic chair in her aunt’s house in the town of Erayumanthurai, near India’s southern tip. Another plastic chair holds a photo of her brother, adorned with pink flowers painted in the corners and a tasseled chain.
Nothing can change that, not even the $180,000 she and her sister received from Italy, after which they dropped their civil case against the marines, she says. “Am I happy with the money from the Italians?” she asks. “No, I’m not happy. I want him alive.”
The police of the Indian coastal state of Kerala booked the two Italian marines, who were acting as guards on the Italian- flagged Enrica Lexie tanker, for the murders of Ajeesh Pink, 19, and the fishing boat’s first mate, who used a single name, Valantine. If the criminal case goes ahead in the port city of Kochi, it would be the first attempt to hold armed maritime guards accountable for the deaths of innocent people in an anti- piracy operation, according to two lawyers and an official at the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization, or IMO.
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Article courtesy of Bloomberg Businessweek.