NEW DELHI: India has rejected Italy’s proposal to “buy impunity” for Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Lattore, the marines accused of killing two fishermen off Kerala, for six lakh euros.
A top government source said the proposal came up during an in-camera hearing at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg, Germany, earlier this week. “They demanded that Girone be allowed to go home and the criminal proceedings in India be dropped. This was indicated using the phrase ‘transforming of surety through some appropriate arrangement’, which is three lakh euros for each marine. Our counsel made it clear that such an offer was not acceptable to us,” the source said.
Alain Pellet, appearing for India, told the tribunal that murder was not a compensable offence under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.
“I cannot help being troubled and (am) quite disturbed by Sir Daniel offer (Italy’s counsel), which I feel to be a kind of proposal to buy impunity for the two marines who stand accused of murder,” Pallet argued during the hearing.
The two important requests Italy has made before the tribunal are: i) India should refrain from taking any judicial or administrative measures against Lattore and Girone in connection with the Enrica Lexie incident and from exercising any other form of jurisdiction over it, and ii) India should take all measures necessary to ensure that the restrictions on the liberty, security and movement of the marines are immediately lifted to enable Girone to travel to and remain in Italy and Lattore to remain in Italy throughout the duration of the proceedings at the tribunal.
Pellet submitted that though the amount was not very high the offer was “deceptive”.
“The proposal is deceptive and for India it would be a fools’ bargain,” he said.
Italy cited as a precedent the 2013 case of “Arctic Sunrise”, where a vessel with the Netherlands’ flag was seized by Russia and 28 Greenpeace activists were arrested for protesting against Arctic oil exploration. Russia had charged them with aggravated hooliganism that is punishable with seven years’ imprisonment. The Netherlands moved the international tribunal, which ruled that Russia must free the activists and ship on a bond of 3.6 million euros until the case was resolved.