Shooting case being probed, says Dhahi
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The Dubai Police has referred the case of the US Navy ship that opened fire on four Indian fishermen, killing one, near Jebel Ali to the Dubai Public Prosecution for further investigation.
Lieutenant-General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Commander-in-Chief of the Dubai Police, said that, according to their testimony, the Indian fishermen were not warned to move away by the US Navy. The crew, which was interrogated by the US Navy after the incident, told the Dubai Police that they did not move towards the ship and instead attempted to avoid it. The navy ship opened fire on the fishermen on Monday near Jebel Ali Port.
He added: “We treat this incident as a normal case — the US navy should report the incident to the police if it occurred in the Dubai regional water. The Dubai Police and port police stations have carried the necessary investigation and treated this as a murder case and all necessary legal action should be taken so the matter can be referred to the Dubai Public Prosecution.”
Lt-Gen Dhahi explained that nobody has been arrested as the ship moved into international water after the shooting. He said that the US authorities are also investigating the incident.
“I believe this was mistake and the ship should not deal with the incident in this way,” said Lt-Gen Dhahi.
Meanwhile, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, M.K. Lokesh, said the UAE and the US have agreed to share with India the details of the ongoing investigation.
“Both the UAE and the US have said they will share the information with us. Hopefully, they will come out with their reports early and solve the mystery,” the envoy told Khaleej Times.
Lokesh, who had earlier sought investigation and legal action, also requested for the UAE authorities’ assistance for the quickest repatriation of the body of the deceased.
The ambassador, who visited the injured men at Dubai’s Rashid Hospital on Tuesday evening, has been assured full support from the Dubai authorities for the earliest repatriation.
“The postmortem has been done. We will repatriate the body as soon as Dubai Police release it,” he said.
Arumugam Sekar, who was from Tamil Nadu, died instantly while three other Indian fishermen were injured when the USNS Rappahannock, a refuelling ship, fired on the fishing vessel which the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet said approached at high speed and ignored repeated warnings. The incident happened around 3pm at the mouth of the Jebel Ali Port.
Sekar, a 28-year old, left for Dubai 10 months ago and his meagre earnings had helped support the family.
All the victims and two other Indians, who were aboard the boat along with two Emiratis, hail from the Ramanathapuram district. Hundreds of fishermen from the same district live in Dubai’s Jumeirah coast.
Some of the fishermen said they were shocked and concerned about the shooting and killing of one among them. “Now, only around 300 fishermen are here since many of them have gone to India because it is not a good season for fishing. But those who are here did not go for fishing yesterday. All of us are shocked about this shooting. We are also worried about our safety. Only four or five boats went to the sea today, that too after their sponsors forced them to,” said a fisherman, who is also a relative of injured Muthu Muniraj’s wife.
He said Muniraj and another injured, Kaliappan Muthukannan, had to undergo surgeries to remove bullets. However, both of them and the third injured, Pandu Sanathan, are in a stable condition.
Kumareshan and Murugan, who escaped unhurt, were called by Dubai Police to record their statements on Wednesday. “We’ve told the police that there was no warning given to us,” said 23-year-old Kumareshan. The injured have also maintained the same claim.